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Recap ▲ Third Period Rally Falls Short As Minutemen Lose To #12 Yale In OT

The good news is despite missing some key players the Massachusetts hockey team did much better against 12th ranked Yale, a team that had beaten them 6-1 earlier in the season.  The bad news is the result was another UMass loss as Yale prevailed 3-2 in overtime.  The Minutemen overcame a 2-0 deficit and some dominant play by the Bulldogs through the first two periods to stage a 3rd period rally, netting two in the 3rd period and sending the game to overtime.  But an ill-timed penalty in the extra frame put the Minutemen at a disadvantage and Yale got the game winner just seconds after the Bulldog power play expired.

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Preview ▲ UMass Looks To Avenge Early Season Loss To #12 Yale

#12 Yale Bulldogs 6-4-2 (3-3-2) ECAC 6th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 7-8-4 (2-4-4) Hockey East T-7th

It’s rare for teams to have a chance to avenge a loss to a non-conference team earlier in the season unless they happen to meet again in the NCAA tournament.  But that’s exactly the chance UMass has on Tuesday when they welcome the 12th ranked Yale Bulldogs to the Mullins Center.  The Minutemen were off to a 4-0-1 start to their season when they first met Yale back on Halloween in the championship game of the Capital City Classic in Trenton, NJ.  Yale would hand UMass their first loss of the season in a dominant 6-1 win and the Minutemen have won only three games since.

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Recap ▲ UMass Picks Up First Defeat, Losing 6-1 To #13 Yale

The Massachusetts hockey team’s undefeated streak to start the season ended at five games as they dropped a 6-1 decision to 13th ranked Yale.  There would be no drama, no comeback in this game as Yale controlled play throughout and threw a blanket on what had been the high-fueled Minuteman offense.  The loss drops UMass’ record on the season to 4-1-1 as they begin a stretch of 7 straight Hockey East games.

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Preview ▲ Unbeaten Minutemen Travel To Capital City Classic

The Massachusetts Minutemen hope to continue their strong start to the season as they head south to Trenton, New Jersey where they’ll spend Halloween weekend participating in the Capital City Classic.  UMass will take on the Maine Black Bears in a non-conference matchup on Friday evening before facing either #13 Yale or Princeton on Saturday.  This weekend’s action will represent the beginning of the regular season for the two Ivy League participants.

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Recruit Update ▲ Nachtigall & Conzo Each Grab Four Points This Past Week

Time to take a look at the future Minutemen.  Kyler Nachtigall, Troy Conzo, and Shane Bear each had multiple point weeks north of the border while Ty Pelton-Byce and John Leonard scored goals in the USHL this week.

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Recruit Update: Leonard Named To Herald’s Dream Team

It’s been a little while so time to see how the recruits who are still playing are doing.  It’s very likely that we’ll see a few more recruits join this list in the coming months.  The team is losing 5 forwards, 3 defensemen and a goalie to graduation or early departure but only have 3 forwards, 2 or 3 defensemen (depending on when McCarthy arrives), and a goaltender line up for next fall currently.  So very likely that we could see a couple more forwards and maybe a defenseman added to next year’s incoming class.

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Yale Recap

UMass ended the first half of the season with another frustrating loss tonight.  This defeat came against Yale by the score of 4-2.  Tonight was all about penalties.  Specifically the UMass team taking some, killing some, not killing others, and not scoring on power plays.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a goal just 3:24 in.  What did UMass do for the rest of the period?  Took just six shots but also took three penalties.  Not surprisingly the score stayed 1-0 after 1.  Things looked promising early in the second when two Yale players took two penalties on the same play, giving UMass a full two minutes of five on three.  But, UMass couldn’t capitalize on the two man advantage.  Yet, in probably the key play of the game, 15 seconds after missing out on the 5 on 3 advantage Rocco Carzo goes into the box for elbowing and then Yale scores a power play goal.  2-0 Bulldogs.

Stephen Guzzo would score toward the end of the second period to give UMass a little momentum going into the third period.  That momentum died of self-inflicted wounds shortly thereafter.  Just a half a minute into the final period Conor Sheary received as five minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind.  Just a mere 19 seconds after that, Conor Allen doubles up the penalties with a slashing call.  How many bad penalties can one team take in one game?  Of course, UMass is able to battle and kill off the resulting five on three and the full five minutes of Sheary’s penalty, only to give up a goal a minute later to allow Yale to go up 3-1.  Like we’ve seen too often UMass allowed that key goal to get to them mentally and they immediately give up yet another 21 seconds later.  4-1.  UMass would score another late when Micheletto pulled Kevin Boyle with three minutes late (still wondering why he didn’t do that on Friday), but for all intents and purposes the game was already over.  In fact another horribly timed penalty by Adam Phillips at 18:35 made sure the victory for Yale was complete.

Now, I think it should be pointed out that UMass was playing the 15th ranked team on their home ice tonight.  However, I think it’s also safe to say that this team is playing some terrible hockey right now.  The power play struggled again tonight, going one for seven overall and missing out on that key five on three to start the second that could’ve turned around the game.  While penalties did not hurt the Minutemen too much on the scoresheet as they were able to keep Yale to just one power play goal on eight chances, the penalties were so ill-timed that they completely kept UMass from climbing back into the game.

So that’s it.  UMass limps into the winter break with a 5-9-2 record, going 1-4-1 in their last six games.  I’ll have a post in the next couple days on my thoughts on the team at the unofficial mid point.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Stephen Guzzo
Guzzo had a goal and was smart enough to stay out of the penalty box.  In fact he’s only taken four penalties all season and hasn’t been in the box at all in his last six games.

No recaps out yet, if there end up being any at all.  The Gazette and Republican both thought it more important to send people to the Faculty Senate discussion on football tonight rather than the hockey team facing the #15 team in the country.

Yale Preview; Gillespie Decommits

Massachusetts Minutemen 5-8-2 (4-6-1)  T-5th Hockey East

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#15 Yale Bulldogs 6-3-2 (3-3-1)  T-5th ECAC

Massachusetts will look for a quick rebound from what was a completely wasted weekend with a rare non-Thanksgiving week Tuesday affair against #18 Yale.  The Minutemen are not the only team motivated to show they’re better than their most recent games however.  The Bulldogs surprisingly maintained their #15 ranking despite only gaining one point in this past weekend’s play as they got pounded by RPI 6-1 on Friday and tied Union 2-2 the next night.  Both teams will be looking to go into the winter break on a high note.

Prior to this last weekend’s struggles the Bulldogs were rolling on the season, with the highlight being a couple overtime wins out in the Centennial State against Denver and Colorado College.  They’ve been pretty balanced between offense and defense so far this year.  The Minuteman defense will have to look much better tomorrow if they want to shut down the likes Antoine Laganiere.  The senior forward has eight goals and six assists in just 11 games so far on the season, finding himself fourth in the country in goals per game.  UMass will also have to limit the chances of Kenny Agostino who has added six goals and seven assists on the  year.  The Yale power play has been converting at a rate of 17.5%.

Jeff Malcolm has been the better Bulldog goaltender so far this season, starting eight of 11 games and compiling a 2.45 GAA and .922 save percentage.  He did play both nights this past weekend so it’s unknown if he’d play again tomorrow.  Though he did not play the entire game on Friday as he was pulled after giving up five goals.  Yale may look to fellow senior Nick Maricic who has had a GAA of 3.91 and saved .855 percent of shots against in four games instead.  Yale does have a young defensive squad with only a single senior and junior among their regular defensemen.  Their penalty kill has been respectable, stopping 84% of their opponents extra man chances.

For UMass they’ll have to play much better in every aspect of the game if they want to pull off the upset.  And even that may not guarantee a win against a ranked team playing in their home barn.  I honestly don’t know what to say beyond that.  There’s way to much to address based on this past weekend’s performance to go into specifics.  This team absolutely needs to go into the break with a win.  Long term aspirations for this team get dimmer with each loss.  The third defeat in five days will make for a less than merry holidays for UMass players and fans alike.

Beer The Triangle
I had originally planned to make the trek down 95 to watch the team tomorrow, but sadly I’ll admit that their recent performances has made it tough to climb into the car mid-week to spend half a day on the road with a good chance of disappointment at the end.  However, for those who are making the trip, here are a couple places sure to add cheer to the visit to New Haven.  There are basically two beer bars I recommend around Yale.  Delaney’s Taproom is located on the northwest outskirts of New Haven.  I recommend trying some local City Steam if you haven’t before.  What I would consider the better of the two options is Prime 16, located right downtown and not too far from the Whale.  Get the Allagash Yakuza, you won’t be disappointed, and make sure to wash it down with one of their burgers.

So I recently learned that Kenny Gillespie, who first committed to UMass over two years ago, will not be coming to Amherst as planned next fall.  I don’t have any details to relay, however Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting site does confirm this information.  I wish Kenny luck wherever he ends up.

With Gillespie’s news UMass has now lost a player and a recruit within a week.  Honestly, I’m not too shocked by this as any coaching change will bring about attrition when it comes to the roster.  I’m honestly a little surprised it’s taken this long however.

The Republican has their preview of tomorrow’s game.  Interesting to note how rare this past weekend’s sweep was.  Maine was the last team to come in and take two from the Minutemen back in 2001.  Including that instance, UMass has only dropped two games at home in a single weekend four times since 2000.

Boston College has regained the top spot in this week’s USCHO poll, which has four different teams receiving first place votes.

No Minutemen were honored in this week’s Hockey East release, but you probably already guessed that.

Northeastern Preview

Northeastern Huskies 7-10-5 (6-7-4) Hockey East 6th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 6-12-3 (5-7-3) Hockey East 7th

On March 6th when the regular season is over and UMass looks at their postseason prospects, or lack thereof, I think they’ll be looking back to this weekend’s series against Northeastern and view it as pivotal to where they ultimately ended up.  There will either be regrets from not taking necessary points or pride that their performance against the Huskies improved their standing and gave them some momentum going into what’s going to be a challenging February.  The fact is a sweep will catapult the Minutemen into 6th place or even 5th depending what Merrimack does.  Three points will put them just behind Northeastern for 6th and likely give them some breathing room ahead of 8th place Providence who has to face UNH this weekend.  This is likely the most critical weekend of the season.

Of course, these two teams kicked off the month at the Mullins Center on the 7th in what looked like an excellent opportunity for UMass to gain points as well.  Unfortunately that did not happen and instead Northeastern has played the best hockey of their season ever since, going 4-1-1 starting with the win over the Minutemen.  During those 6 games the Huskies have allowed a measly 1.67 goals per game.  This team is extremely tough to score against, coming into the weekend with the 3rd best defense in the league.  This didn’t seem to be an issue in that first game with UMass quickly jumping out to a two goal lead.  But they then played undisciplined and then they just played poorly and Northeastern ultimately came away with the win in a game that saw them score 3 goals in 38 seconds and three total power play goals.  Those types of mental lapses cannot happen this weekend.  UMass’ penalty kill has played very well in the games since that last meeting, but the easiest way to kill off a penalty is not to take one.  To date they haven’t shown that they’re capable of that.

Besides undisciplined play the other issue that stood out in that first meeting was how easily Northeastern was able to dominate them physically.  So much so that following the game Coach Cahoon said the team was better suited to play in a no-check league than Hockey East.  It will probably benefit the Minutemen to have played Vermont last weekend as they play similarly to Northeastern in terms of being physical.  In fact, it was probably the Catamounts’ hitting and ability to take the puck away that determined last Friday’s contest where they won 2-1.  They didn’t seem to have the same intensity as Saturday and UMass successful used their superior speed and finesse to essentially skate around them and keep the puck off their sticks.

Whatever worked for them Saturday, whether it was a slightly different scheme or different mindset, will have to carryover to this weekend if they want to be successful.  But one additional advantage that UVM did not have will be Chris Rawlings in net.  The sophomore is having a breakout season and comes into the game with the 3rd best goals against and 2nd best save percentage among Hockey East netminders.  UMass saw some vulnerability to his game as they put up three goals, two at even strength, against him in the first 30 minutes of that earlier game.  In addition to solving Rawlings, it is essential to keep Wade Macleod and Tyler McNeely off the board as they’re responsible for most of goal scoring for the Huskies.

There have been some key points to the season so far and as of yet the Minutemen haven’t been able to rise up and take advantage of them.  When they had a chance to pull even in league play heading into winter break they had an extremely lackluster game up in Orono.  When they were up 3-1 against this Husky squad and could’ve opened up this month with two points at home, they folded.  Last weekend they went up to Vermont and outscored them 7-2, but only managed a split.  Maybe it’s youth.  Maybe it’s something else.  But if there’s ever a weekend to change that trend and play big in big games, it’s now.

Beer The Triangle

Northeastern has a considerable lack of good beer bars around it, which is surprising considering it’s in the middle of Boston.  So I’m focusing my attention on Amherst.  Pregame I suggest a trip to the Hangar to partake in an Anchor Liberty, a very sweet yet hoppy ale.  And it is about time to start thinking about filing your taxes, so after the game head down to the Moan and Dove and become friends with the IRS.  Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout to be exact.

Michael Wood of the Collegian has an excellent story on Eric Filiou.  This is one of the best things I’ve read from the Collegian in years.

USCHO has an article about UMass surpassing expectations so far despite their youth.

Last month I relayed the news that next year’s schedule would feature a home game with Yale, a trip to down I-91 to play at Quinnipiac, and a trip to sunny Florida to play in the Everblades College Classic with Maine, Cornell, and Clarkson.  Dick Baker reports that Harvard will visit the Mullins, which is good since they’ve owed us a home game from years and years ago.  He also says that UMass will play at Cornell, but that doesn’t make sense to me.  If UMass is playing in Florida, they would likely be matched up with Cornell since conference matchups would be avoided in the first round of the tournament as would a matchup of the co-hosts, Maine and Cornell.  So I don’t understand how UMass would play Cornell next season if they’ll likely face them in a tournament anyway.  I also would be surprised if basically the entire non-conference slate would come against the ECAC.  Frankly, I don’t get it.

The Mullins Center will be hosting the Western Mass hockey finals this year.

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