Tagged: is it friday yet?

I guess the heavy stuff ain’t quite at its heaviest by the time it gets out to suburban Minneapolis.

(Weekend Preview)

Your UMass Minutemen take on the No. 15 Minnesota Golden Gophers

So the Mass Attack begins the season with two in the upper Midwest against a ranked opponent. Sound frightening? Sound like the Minutemen are way overmatched? Why? Let’s see, the Golden Gophers were 18-19-2 last year, 12-14-2 in the WCHA. They finished 7th in their conference and were bounced in the first round of their conference tourney. Your Minutemen finished at .500 with a record of 18-18-0 (despite a MASSIVE Cahoon Swoon), 13-14-0 in Hockey East. They finished 6th in the conference and were also bounced in the first round of their tourney. Okay, so we’re willing to concede that Minnesota played a MUCH more difficult non-conference schedule last year, but even given that, this was a sub-.500 team, they certainly weren’t world-beaters.

Well, we lost some key guys. Yeah, well so did they. The Gophers return fifteen from last year’s roster (10 forwards, 3 defensemen, 2 goalies), that’s the same amount as your Minutemen who return 10 forwards, 4 defensemen, and 1 goalie (not included are Anthony Raiola, who was redshirted, and Kevin Moore, who has yet to play a minute in his two years with the team). Among the Gophers’ losses were their top two point scorers, Tony Lucia (11G/17A/28Pts) and Jordan Schroeder (9G/19A/28Pts), as well as two of their top four defensemen (David Fischer and Kevin Wehrs). However, the Gophers do return Mike Hoeffel (14G/10A/24Pts/7PPG), their top goal scorer and top powerplay goal scorer, from last year, along with top defensemen Cade Fairchild (4G/21A/21Pts) and Aaron Ness. Also back is forward Jay Barriball, who will be their captain this year. He played only five games last year before receiving a medical redshirt due to a season ending knee injury. Although Barriball hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the last three years, he could always return to the form of his freshman year, when he put up 20 goal, 23 assist, 43 point numbers. Minnesota also returns both starting goalie Alex Kangas (16-15-1, 2.61 GAA, .911 save%) and backup Kent Patterson (2-4-1, 3.10 GAA, .901 save%).

The Mass Attack’s depletion is a little more severe. Brace yourself, we’re about to drag up some memories; we’ll try to make this as quick as possible. Gone are: the top 5 point scorers from last year: James Marcou (11G/40A/51Pts), Casey Wellman (23G/22A/45Pts), Justin Braun (8G/23A/31Pts), Will Ortiz (13G/13A/26Pts), and Matt Irwin (7G/17A/24Pts); three of last year’s top four blue-liners: Braun, Irwin, and Martin Nolet (5G/4A/9Pts/59PIM); and a true heart and soul guy, great leader, and fantastic P.J. Axelsson-esque 2-way forward in Brett Watson (3G/6A/9Pts). Key returning skaters include last years no. 6 point scorer, T.J. Syner (8G/12A/20Pts), as well as defensemen Mike Marcou (7G/3A/10Pts) and Doug Kublin (we’ll get to his importance later on). Also returning is the man who is now undeniably, unquestionably the most important player on the team. That man is Paul Dainton. Dainton had the best record of his career last year (15-15-0), but otherwise had his statistically poorest season (3.08 GAA, .901 save%). Compare this to the numbers from his freshman (12-14-6, 2.56 GAA, .911 save%) and sophomore (12-14-1, 2.45 GAA, .913 save%) seasons. If the Minutemen are to succeed this year, Dainton needs to prove last year was an outlier and continue the trend of the previous two years (something in the 2.40 GAA, .920 save% range would be fantastic, but I’d be very happy with something like 2.60, .910).

Since both these teams lost a lot, it stands to reason that they are both pretty young. The Minnesota roster features 10 freshmen (6 forwards, 4 defensemen) and UMass has 13 (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, 1 goalie). The quality of recruits may be where the Gophers have the edge. UMass is counting on guys like Troy Power, Eric Filiou, Peter DeAngelo, and Michael Pereira. And these guys are all solid recruits. But if you google the names of the Minnesota freshmen, you are likely to find a professional scouting report on all of them. One in particular, 6’4” 188lb. center Nick Bjugstad, was the 19th overall pick of the NHL draft this year. He supposedly has good speed and vision and a fantastic shot to go along with his size. So, yeah, there’s that. But prospects are only prospects and no one knows how well they’ll do; just ask Danny Hobbs. (Incidentally, Danny Hobbs, you looked very, very good in the exhibition game, and we really need a guy like you to step up and shine now that Jimmy and Casey are gone. So if you could do that, we’d really appreciate it.)

There is one more reason to be excited for this season opening series, and that is this: Doug Kublin does not have mono. Allow me to explain how important Doug Kublin is to the UMass Minutemen. He played 25 games last year. In those games, the Mass Attack was 16-9-0. In games without Doug Kublin in the lineup, the Minutemen were 2-9-0. Stark contrast? Yes, but it goes deeper than record. In the 25 games the Manlius, NY defenseman played, the Minutemen averaged 3.08 goals against. In the 11 games he missed, 3.64 goals against! Almost half a goal more per game! Every 2 games you play without Kubbie, you spot the opposition a goal. So ignore the fact that Doug Kublin has career scoring numbers that look like your mother’s (1G/5A/6Pts in 74GP); he is a plus player and vital to this team and if Paul Dainton needs to stand on his head and get numbers like those mentioned above to give this team a shot at going anywhere, Doug Kublin needs to be in the lineup and on the ice to give him a fighting chance.

So there it is, my vehement defense of our beloved Mass Attack’s chances this weekend. It’s gonna be tough and it ain’t gonna be pretty, but damnit, our freshmen look good and our vets look energized and if we could steal some wins this weekend we could have a dangerous team on our hands that just might think it’s good enough to go somewhere. And it might shut up Roman Augustoviz, whose tweets are some of the most annoying on the planet. Go ahead, check them out, I dare you. @eyeonupuk do it.

Also: Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Don Lucia was a hoodrat. Now you finally know that.

So… yeah, let’s get back at it. Is it Friday yet?

-Derek

~Update: Apparently Eddie Olczyk’s  injury is more severe than my “source” stated. According to Dick Baker, Olczyk will likely miss the Minnesota series, as will freshman Troy Power, who sustained an undisclosed injury in practice on Tuesday.

Long-overdue revenge

Yes, Virginia, the UMass Minutemen basketball team just won a game in the Atlantic 10 tournament. I’m going to repeat that: the Minutemen won an A-10 tourney game. In what top scientists are describing as “by a wide margin the least likely thing that has ever happened,” UMass, which managed in consecutive years to suffer a shocking upset in the first round of said tournament that ultimate cost Travi$ Fraud’s teams a pair of NCAA Tournament bids, second-year (and, for some reason, already-embattled) head coach Derek Kellogg took a 10-19 team that very nearly 0-3 against the Atlantic 10’s two worst teams, snuck into the conference tournament on a last-day victory, and proceeded to do what Ford’s teams, featuring the likes of Forbes, Harris, Brower, Milligan, Lasme, and Freeman never did. The Derek Kellogg statue is to be placed in between the Mullins and the practice arena, and will feature lifelike hair to be re-jelled on a daily basis. Oh, and let’s name the Champions Center after him too.

Okay, so dramatic hyperbole aside, the Minutemen were playing a Charlotte team tail-diving in a way that makes the Cahoon Swoon look tame by comparison. They also didn’t have to play in UMass’s personal house of horrors, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. (No, really, I was so excited when I realized this game would be on Charlotte’s home court. I hate Boardwalk Hall; it’s right there with Safeco Field and Lawler Arena in the “places my favorite team should win but never seems to” pantheon, and it’s not even anyone’s home arena.)

Did UMass deserve to win this game? The defense in the first half and down the stretch was fantastic, though the lapse in the middle there nearly did them in. Derrio Green (and, really, the whole Charlotte offense) didn’t exactly set the world on fire from the field. And certainly, they got some help from the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen, a too many men technical foul. I’ve never seen that in a basketball game (that’s roughly seven full seasons of Celtics, four full years of UMass and countless pro and college games on TV in between). and I can guarantee you the crazies calling for DK’s firing would be louder than ever if such a thing happened with his team.

On the other hand, UMass, as if to continue the A-10 First Game tradition, tried their darnedest to lose this game. The team continues to struggle to hit open shots, although at least they’re getting more of them. Anthony Gurley, as the UMassHoops chat room can attest, had one of those frustrating games that has really epitomized his time here in Amherst. Bailey got lots of minutes. And yet they still pulled it off, thanks to the continued stellar rebounding effort and Ricky continuing to go out with a bang here.

So what’s next? A Richmond squad that UMass took to overtime on its own court, and could have beaten if Ricky hadn’t dribbled down the clock to about 1 on the final possession before heaving a terrible shot. On one hand, UMass doesn’t have to play them in Richmond this time. On the other hand…right. Atlantic City. Fuck. Well, that was fun. No, but seriously, this is two great wins in a row for DK and for this team going forward, regardless of how central Ricky was to them. If the guys can’t pull the victory and bring a 19-loss team into the NCAA tournament this year (which is like saying “if I can’t go try out for the Red Sox and make the starting rotation”), at least it’s nice to have not just A-10 Tournament experience for the kids, but also Boardwalk Hall experience going forward.

But hey, anything is possibbblllleeeee! (Except, again, that Red Sox scenario.)

Oh, other things to note…I caught the first half of UMass-Albany today, my first-ever men’s lax game at Garber Field. (I know, I’m a slacker, though in my defense, the home games always seem to be either a) during class or b) too far away for my hungover ass to walk on a weekend.) UMass came back from down 4-1 to win 11-6. I’m not even going to pretend to be a lacrosse expert, but I’ll do my best to keep an eye on Cannella’s talented young squad.

Last but not least (but certainly most obvious): the new layout is finally here! After finally getting some free time to mess around with GIMPshop (my new laptop, unlike my old PC, does not have the real Photoshop, and I’m not made of money), I was able to put something together with a shot Walsh took a few weeks back before a game. Accordingly, I switched up the blog template, and I think this one looks better; plus, I enjoy having the tags and author stuff BEFORE the post, so you guys know whose work you’re reading right away. We’d love to hear any input you might have on the layout; notably, we’d love to change the color scheme but WordPress only gives you so many templates, so we’ll just deal with what we’re given. Enjoy!

One more thing…we will most definitely on hand for this weekend’s festivities at Chestnut Hill University. Is it Friday yet?

-Max

Weekend Preview: Keep the Huskies in the Doghouse

Northeastern Huskies (13-12-1 (8-10-1 HEA)) vs. No. 18 UMass Minutemen (16-11-0 (11-9-0 HEA))

What can be said about the recent performance of our beloved Minutemen? It’s been bad. All-around poor performance. The Minutemen are 1-3-0 in their last four games and the only win came at Hockey East basement-dwelling Providence. The Minutemen have scored seven goals in this time and given up seventeen. This translates to 1.75 goals per game for and 4.25 goals per game against. These are both terrible numbers. How many games can you win with an offense scoring one or two goals? Not many. Even fewer when your defense is gives up four. Something really needs to improve for the Minutemen this weekend because they are going up against a goalie in Chris Rawlings who hasn’t allowed more than two goals in his last five games and has only allowed more than two goals twice since 2010 began.

Northeastern’s offense has been anemic this season. The Huskies have averaged only 2.65 goals per game. That’s second worst in the league, behind Providence. If you take away Northeastern’s last two games against Merrimack and Harvard, where they scored five and four goals, respectively, the Huskies haven’t put more than three on the board since a 6-5 overtime loss to UML on January 9th. It has been tough for NEU to find secondary scoring in conference play to back up Tyler McNeely (6-10-16), Wade MacLeod (8-7-15), and Kyle Kraemer (8-7-15). And those three haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire this season, either.

The Huskies aren’t fantastic on defense, either. The team lead in plus/minus is split by three players (Defensemen David Strathman and Jim Driscoll and Forward Robbie Vrolyk) at only +5. They are averaging 29.3 shots per game against in Hockey East play, while only getting 25.4 shots. While this defense isn’t great, its certainly good enough when combined with Chris Rawlings. The numbers don’t look fantastic for Rawlings (.901 save%, 3.03 GAA in Hockey East play), but he has played extremely well in the second half and the numbers are skewed by a loss to Vermont in which he gave up seven goals on only nineteen shots.

We all know the problem with UMass. Ineffective offense and incredibly horrendous defense. When this is combined with a lack of heart, a lack of discipline, and a lack of knowledge of where to be on the ice, the results can be deadly to a season. The Minutemen have the talent to play with anyone in this league, but they tend to give up on games when they get behind and the result has been a record of 0-7-0 when trailing after one period in Hockey East play. They need to keep their heads in all situations and not give up dumb goals. In last week’s game against BC, at least four goals were the fault of the defense. If you give Paul Dainton a chance, he can win games for you. This game is shaping up to be a low scoring one so the Minutemen better play a smart, disciplined game or they will probably lose.

UMass won the previous meeting of these two teams 4-1, but that was against backup goaltender Bryan Mountain and both these teams are too schizophrenic right now for me to even venture a prediction.

Scores UMass Fans Should Keep an Eye On
(For the remainder of the season, this will replace the usual “Interesting Hockey East Games” segment.)

Friday
No. 12 Maine (#3 in Hockey East, 24 Points) vs. Boston University (#5 in Hockey East, 18 Points)

Saturday
No. 12 Maine (#3 in Hockey East, 24 Points) vs. Boston University (#5 in Hockey East, 18 Points)

Other Hockey East Action

Friday
No. 20 UMass Lowell vs. No. 10 Boston College
Providence vs. No. 15 New Hampshire
Merrimack vs. No. 17 Vermont

Saturday
No. 10 Boston College vs. No. 20 UMass Lowell
Merrimack vs. No. 17 Vermont

Also, big ups to the UMass basketball team for a big 84-80 win in OT at Duquesne.

So… is it Friday yet?

-Derek

The times, they are a-changin’…

…and also the blog. Or at least, it will be. You’ve noticed the new tabs at the top perhaps; the new Writers section is under construction and About has been separated into Encyclopedia UMass-ica, which will hopefully have some actual content by the end of the week. I mean, we do have lives outside of this website, kinda.

Also forthcoming, a new logo and a new layout which will theoretically be more UMass-themed (read: maroon and white) and more space-efficient (read: columns will be on both sides instead of just the left). All of these fancy new things, whenever I feel like getting around to it. Look forward to it, damnit!

Also, we’ve continued having 100-plus views every day since the BC event page was posted last week. We really appreciate your patronage and we hope you guys continue to check in daily and SPREAD THE WORD. You can also follow us on Twitter: Fight_Mass. I swear we’re gonna get around to putting up flyers before hockey season ends…I think.

So, uhh, is it Friday yet?

-Max

I’d Like To Thank God Almighty For Giving Everyone So Much, and Me So Little

There’s alot of hate in my heart. The contempt I feel for my peers is unhealthy, and the hate I feel for rivals can be likened to Glenn Beck’s hate of black people.

So, as I sat, still fuming from the weekend (Basketball team, I am disappoint) and annoyed by the prospect of the prostate massage given to the 3 very average teams in tonight’s overhyped Beanpot (zomg, meaningless games) I tried to decide what Hockey East team I hate the most. The three teams to choose from are obvious. BU, BC and our ugly sisters at Lowell. There is no clear winner or loser in this group, as there is a plethora of reasons to hate every one of these teams. So, in the interest of fairness, lets do a pros and cons list.

Boston University

Every times I see Jack Parker I want to slap him. In fact, when discussing the possibility of a BU/Umass Hockey East playoff game at the Bill, I seriously considered throwing an overpriced drink at him. My hate is that deep.

Their students overwhelmingly have authentic jerseys that retail for about $100. Really? Why not just wear polos and sweater vests? Yes, it can be argued that maybe that just means they have good fans but I just say they have wealthy fair weather fans, and Player Hatin’ my friends comes down to despising the wealthy. Remember to send daddy the receipt.

Fuck Jack Parker

They have one sport, and not in the adorable Lowell sense, but more in a “you suck at everything else and won’t admit it” way. I got in a argument with some BU bitch and her response to this was “we don’t need other sports, we are good at hockey”. No, shitty argument, you are bad and should feel bad.

So smug in their “we are awesome at Hockey” that they charge $26 to get in to their “family friendly” arena. When you are charging nearly $30 to watch college hockey, then you really need a slap in the face. I guess they are recouping the losses for all the other sports they both suck at and no one watches.

They brag about Beanpot titles, like they mean anything.

Did I mention how much I hate Jack Parker?

Boston College

Not a Hockey reason, but I despise how everyone sees BC as the college that represents Boston. Ummmm, Its a CATHOLIC PRIVATE SCHOOL! It doesn’t speak for the average Massachusetts kid as the local media shoves down our throat. This is why Umass needs a D1 football team, we can’t let BC speak for the great state of Massachusetts. In North Carolina the locals root for UNC, not Duke. guess what, BC IS DUKE! Privileged Private school kids, not the average, blue collar, Massachusetts kid. I know no one who goes to BC, and I’m from Medford with three kids in my graduating class that got into Harvard. Not one went or talked about going to BC

I think those “Super Fan” shirts are dumb (yes I’m a hypocrite, welcome all “Minutefans” uggg)

I’m not going to get overly political, but I am against any religious education. Schools founded on the premise of a religious education (grade school and up) make me sick. I despise Notre Dame for this and I will not spare BC. To be honest, BC was my 3rd most hated school until I factored this in. I can’t not hate them for this.

I would hate them for hockey reasons, but It seems like their fans can’t argue because they don’t exist in large numbers.

Umass (Lol, not happening) Lowell

Our natural rivals, being state rivals, but the fact is they suck at doing this because they are not a worthy rival. I respect the hockey rivalry because it is passionate, intense and by the end of my first year of Lowell games, I have alot of mutual respect for their fans. We are in the same boat, being in an under-covered state school surrounded by pompous asses. That being said, this can’t ever be a true rivalry because, out of the gate, it is no contest. Umass is The University Of Massachusetts, the flagship campus, the only UMass that doesn’t need a city tagged on the end. Lowell is Lowell, they are a smaller sister school who has one D1 sport (and only because there is no more D2 hockey) If we did a tale of the tape between the two schools, it wouldn’t be a contest. Size, Academics, Alumni, Location all go our way. If Lowell was larger, independent and called “Massachusetts State” or something of the sort then maybe it would be a rivalry. Untill then, you are the ugly sister and you will like it.

No fight song. Hahahaha, maybe they can play Heroin by the Velvet Underground.

Worst. Scoreboard. Ever.

Who Do We Hate Most?

I don’t have an answer for this. I hate them all for different reasons, and devoid of an obvious rival I guess we will just have to sing during “sweet Caroline” BC Sucks” then add “Lowell sucks, Lowell sucks!” after spilling a jar of piss on Jack Parker.

Now If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go home and put some water in Jack Parker’s momma’s dish

-Matt