Saturday Recap

Last night the Massachusetts hockey team bounced back nicely from a disappointing loss at home on Friday.  Unable to get the puck past Chris Rawlings the night before despite 31 shots, the Minutemen stepped it up and poured 46 shots on the Northeastern goaltender to gain the 6-3 win at Matthews Arena.  The game looked like it would be another close one, with both teams trading goals through the first 30 minutes of the game.  However the team would take the lead in the 2nd with the second of two Rocco Carzo goals and then dominate in the third period, outshooting the Huskies 16-9 in that stanza.

As I mentioned in the recap written yesterday, I was worried the team would let their emotions get to them after watching two teammates get injured with some cheap hits on Friday.  However they played disciplined and methodically and got their revenge on the scoreboard instead of in the corners.  The Minutemen were also able to overcome a strong game from Husky freshman phenom Kevin Roy who had two goals for his team.

It was a total team effort but there are some individual performances that deserve mention as well.  Freshman K.J. Tiefenwerth had a breakout game scoring a goal and adding two assists, his first goal and points in his collegiate career.  His goal was especially timely as it came in the final seconds of the first period to give UMass a lead and some needed momentum going into the locker room.  Joel Hanley had a goal and an assist on the game and was on the ice for five of UMass’ six goals, finishing with a plus minus of +5.  Adam Phillips scored a goal on a nice heads up play where he was able to grab a loose puck in the Northeastern zone and immediately come in and put one high on Rawlings.

After not even registering a shot during Friday’s loss Branden Gracel and Mike Pereira bounced back and performed well last night.  Gracel tallied three assists and had a team high seven shots while Pereira had four shots and sealed the game with an empty net goal in the fourth.  Both finished a +3.  Stephen Guzzo had a multiple point night with two assists.  Shane Walsh returned from injury and had five total shots on his 21st birthday.  If there’s one area of concern from last night it’s the power play.  UMass was not able to score a power play goal in their four chances last night after going 0 for 4 the night before as well.

So the win against Northeastern ends the pre-Christmas league schedule for the Minutemen and they’ll now have non-conference games against Colgate and Yale.  The Minutemen are currently tied for 5th in Hockey East with nine points, one point out of 4th place.  This could change as some of the teams around them have games in the next couple weeks while the Minutemen are taking on the ECAC.  Still, their 4-6-1 conference record at this point is an improvement over last year when they were 2-6-3 through their first 11.  The next two weeks of games and the weeks off that follow will be used to fine tune some areas that need improvement as well as hopefully allowing the team to get a bit healthier before Hockey East play starts again.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Rocco Carzo
The co-captain continues to be a force offensively this year.  Carzo’s two goals were key last night, especially his second one which gave UMass the lead for good.  It was his second multi-goal game this season and he’s now tied for fourth among Hockey East players with seven total.

Tiefenwerth says getting his first goal was a relief in the Republican recap.

In the USCHO recap, Carzo says that the strategy was to force Rawlings to give up rebounds.

Yes, a teddy bear drew a penalty last night, per CHN’s Takeaways.

I want to extend my congratulations to Boston College coach Jerry York for tying Ron Mason’s mark of 924 college hockey wins.  York is one of the classiest and obviously one of the smartest people in the sport.

Polls & Awards

So this first Polls & Awards post of the season can pretty much be titled “Why Polls Are Stupid”.  Last week UMass had enough votes in the USCHO poll to be de facto 28th and ahead of fellow Hockey East teams Northeastern and Providence.  In this week’s poll UMass received zero votes, no doubt because of their lackluster performance this past weekend against…er…UMass.  Providence and Northeastern played as many real games as UMass this past week, zero, yet still received votes.  Just another lesson that the polls are only as valuable as the people that are chosen to vote in them.

We have a split poll this week as Boston College is #1 for USCHO but Minnesota is tops in the USA Hockey/USA Today poll.

All Black Bears and Warriors in this week’s Hockey East awards, since they’re the only ones who played.

UMass is flip-flopping a home and home with Providence in January.  The teams will play at the Mullins on Friday, January 11th and then at Schneider the next night.

New England Hockey Journal has their preview of Hockey East.  They also have this in-depth feature on Jerry York, claiming he’s the best coach in college hockey.  Yes, yes he is.

Starting to wrap-up preview mode here at FTT.  Tomorrow I’ll unveil my pick for Newcomer of the Year, Wednesday will be the annual way too long season preview for the Minutemen, and then Thursday will take a look at Friday’s opener against the UConn Huskies.