CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The first period looked good for Massachusetts, but the second was terrible and the third got worse, as the Minutemen dropped a decision to Boston College, 4-2, at Conte Forum Friday night.
UMass skated with BC for much of the first period before a series of bad penalties and largely ineffective power plays allowed the Eagles to pad their lead. The loss dropped UMass’ record to 1-2-1 on the season, and the Minutemen are still without a win in three Hockey East games.
What I saw
- The Minutemen played an even first period with BC until they started taking bad penalties. As the massive sophomore class continues to grow, the Minutemen will improve their game immensely. Still, bad penalties taken by experienced players are unacceptable for a club so heavily weighted toward underclassmen. Senior captain T.J. Syner took three minors in the game and received a 10-minute misconduct late in the third period after complaining about a call on fellow senior captain Danny Hobbs, who had his own problems with penalties, spending four minutes the box.
- Jeff Teglia is the only reason the score wasn’t far more lopsided. In the second period, the Eagles outshot UMass, 14-2. The sophomore goaltender whose freshman season ended with dreadful numbers due to injury and wildly inexperienced team in front of him when he was healthy. Cahoon believes Teglia is the type of goaltender that can win championships in this league, pointing out the Clark Cup he won with the Omaha Lancers of the United State Hockey League. He finished the game with 31 saves, receiving little support from his teammates. Two of the Boston College goals came on the power play, and Bill Arnold’s second, which made it 3-1, came just as another penalty expired.
- UMass’ top five forwards are capable of keeping this team in games, but the team as a whole lacks true centers to direct the offense. Also, despite success last weekend, Cahoon opted to juggle his lines against BC to help create more balance throughout his lineup. Branden Gracel is developing and centered Syner and Hobbs on Friday. Last weekend, when sophomore Mike Pereira centered Syner and Hobbs, the trio combined for 15 points in UMass’ two games. Following the loss to BC, Cahoon said he chose to split the dynamic trio up in hopes of making his offense deeper. On Friday, Pereira shifted to the left wing beside center Eric Filiou and right wing Conor Sheary. The group failed to produce much offense for UMass. It will be interesting to see the combination Cahoon sends out next weekend when the Minutemen play a home-and-home with Boston University beginning Friday night in Amherst.
What I thought
- Teglia demonstrated the ability to lead this team victories throughout the game Friday night. At no point, though, was he as good as he was in the second period. In the dreadful second period, Teglia kept the Eagles from padding the one-goal lead they held at that point. A series of sprawling saves will likely be remembered more the others, but his consistency and the ease with which he made the routine saves could help this whole club build confidence. If the Minuteen had stayed out of the penalty box, the result of this game could have been completely different with Teglia playing as well as he did.
- Cahoon doesn’t have much to work with outside of his top five forwards. Hobbs, Syner, Pereira, Sheary and Gracel are all gifted players who have contributed in the early season. Outside of that group, no UMass forward has more than one point and only freshman Andrew Tegeler has scored a goal. Tinkering with the lines on Friday produced little results for the Minutemen. Filiou hardly had a bad game playing between Pereira and Sheary, but his effort was nothing beyond average. Some freshmen have shown signs of bright futures, including Emerson Auvenshine and Zack LaRue, while others, namely Steven Guzzo, will have an impact on this team by season’s end.
- Michael Marcou needs to start playing like a senior defenseman. Marcou has pieced together a respectable career in Amherst, but he has hardly been the reliable blue liner Cahoon needs with such a young group. He is only upperclassman defenseman in UMass’ lineup, and put the team in several vulnerable spots on Friday. He managed to score a goal late in the game, cutting BC’s lead to 4-2. Still, he ended the night a minus-1 and has rated a minus-3 to this point in the season. Nothing spectacular is expected from Marcou, but smart play is critical if the Minutemen plan to be anything more than a eighth seed in the Hockey East Tournament.
What they said
“We need them on the ice when we can have them on the ice. Two things led to those penalties: fatigue, they were on the ice for long, long shifts on power plays and when killing penalties, then you lose a little bit focus and you’re liable to take a penalty. That got to them a little bit. They were frustrated, and it didn’t help us. That’s what we need to do. We need to steady ourselves through those situations and not allow that to change the tempo of the game or the way we’re trying to play.” — UMass coach Don Cahoon discussing the penalties taken by Danny Hobbs and T.J. Syner
The UMass captains simply need to play smarter than they did on Friday. While Hobbs’ second penalty of the night was plainly a bad call, his first was a hold that a senior should know better than to take.
Syner’s penalties were equally damaging. The first came on a delayed penalty call to BC freshman Destry Straight, negating a potential UMass power play. He would take two more minors in the game, before receiving a 10-minute misconduct for mouthing off late in the game.
What they didn’t say
Cahoon didn’t say whether or not the experiment with Filiou as the center on UMass’ second line would continue, but he didn’t really need to. His desire for greater overall depth makes sense and will be beneficial if he can find someone to distribute the puck to his gifted wingers.
While it’s clear someone has to fill the void if the Minutemen care to compete, the options on his roster are minimal.