So, ever play one of those strategy games like Civilization or Alpha Centauri? And you’re having a kick-ass game and then just when things are going your way, you push one of your scouts into a space where you find that the fucking Greeks or whoever has a giant army ready to crush you and you didn’t even see it?
No, of course not, you’re not a massive nerd, and neither am I. I just wanted to incorporate the word “fog” into this game write-up, because, being too young to remember the foggy playoff games at the Boston Garden, I’ll now always associate fog on a hockey rink with last night’s shitshow of a hockey game, a 5-4 gutpunch overtime loss to BC that stings on so many levels, it’s difficult to fathom.
Let’s start with the obvious: for two periods, this felt like an instant replay of the last time BC came to the Bill, a 4-0 whitewash in January where Steve Mastalerz made 35 saves. He was on his game again for the first forty minutes, but the Minutemen didn’t even need to be as opportunistic – instead, playing the same aggressive forecheck and tenacious D that led to two agonizingly-close losses at Conte in last year’s playoffs.
Alas, the third period played more like a far less fun memory of last season – the Agannis meltdown in which UMass – stop me if you’re heard this one – led 3-0 early, got outscored 4-1 in the third period, and then fell in OT. The only difference here is that, where the Minutemen actually trailed and then tied that game, UMass’s lone goal in the third looked like the rally-killing anomaly UMass has never seemed to have in the Toot era. BC had just struck for their second garbage goal of the period and, where past UMass teams were just waiting to give up that equalizer, the answering goal from Darren Rowe to go up 4-2 with a few minutes left looked like the clincher.
It was not to be. You all know what happened next, as the defending champs looked not the slightest bit overrated in crashing the net against an entirely overworked UMass defensive corps. When the fog (literally) had cleared, the best player on the ice, wunderkind Johnny Gaudreau, emerged the hero for the Eagles. For Boston, for Boston, goddamnit I hate you all so much.
Oh, let’s go ahead and tack on all the things that hurt even more: First off, if Joel Hanley doesn’t go for a weak 5-and-a-game right at the beginning (talk about deja vu!), that meltdown absolutely does not happen. No way. He’s clearly this team’s best defender, and when you combine his absence with the fact that Jerry York’s top lines were wisely benched after lackluster play early on (and were therefore both hungry AND rested late in the game), it was a recipe for disaster all the way. It’s not an excuse – it’s an indictment on this team’s continued lack of discipline and depth (so what happens if Hanley or another D-man gets hurt and misses extended time?).
Second, the students. For the second straight game, albeit more predictably this time, the student side looked damn near full. But you play with fire, as a team with a fairly bandwagon-y fanbase, by blowing a game like this. As fun as last week must have been, you mitigate it when so many freshmen seeing their first or second ever college hockey game get a stomach punch of this magnitude already. At least maybe this will teach some of you doofuses a lesson: don’t EVER chant “overrated” before you have a multi-goal lead in the waning seconds. EVER. No matter how true it was for the first five periods of BC’s season. A Jerry York team is always dangerous. (Oh, and the fuck BC chant, I’m running out of ways to hate you all and frankly, there’s not much I can do about it. Sigh.)
Last, but certainly not least, Mike Pereira. Looked like a pretty rough injury. Needless to say we need him to make a speedy recovery from that.
There were definitely some pluses to take away from the game. High attendance, Mastalerz flashing signs of brilliance before the D gave up in front of him (although a couple of those in the 3rd were kinda soft), Rocco Carzo finally picking up where he left off after his first game as a freshman, etc. It’s a long season, with 26 more Hockey East games to go, only two of which are against the defending national champs. But it’d be a hell of a lot more fun to write about this game if the Minutemen were 2-0-0 (1-0-0), especially given the latest shit sandwich of a performance by the football team (oh, don’t worry, I’ll get to you guys soon). Let’s see how they handle the adversity next week against BU, who looked awfully shaky against UNH tonight.
And hey, at least UMass didn’t get outscored 10-1 in two home games against St. Lawrence. So there’s that.