Thursday, November 14, 2013

Previewing the UMass Minutemen

The first place Eagles will look to extend their four game winning streak tonight out in lovely Amherst as they take on Hockey East foe, UMass. This is the first meeting of two meetings between Boston College and UMass this season. The other will come tomorrow night @ Kelly Rink.

This has been a season of ups and downs for the Minutemen so far as they have a 3-6-1 record with wins over Maine, and Michigan State (x2). While they do have those three victories, they're coming off a humiliating 9-0 loss @ home to the UNH Wildcats last Saturday night. They also lost 4-1 in Durham on Friday night. As of today, the Minutemen sit in 8th place in Hockey East with three points (a win and tie vs Maine). If you're into the common opponents stuff, the only Eagle opponent UMass has faced is Boston University, whom they lost to on opening night by a 3-1 count.

The big problem for the Minutemen right now is their goaltending situation. Starter Steve Mastalerz was injured on Saturday night and it is unclear whether he will go tonight or not. From what I have gathered, even if he does play, he could be in some extreme pain. Not to mention he is facing the best offense in the country, averaging exactly five goals per contest. If Mastalerz does not go, UMass has two freshmen in Alex Wakaluk and Mac Haight ready to fill in. Combined, they gave up nine goals on thirty three shots versus UNH on Saturday. If they play like that against BC tonight, I don't even want to consider what guys like Johnny G and Kevin Hayes could potentially do. 

The last couple of years, the Mullins Center has not been kind to the Eagles but they do have a 23-6-1 record there since it's inception. Like UNH and Minnesota, the Mullins is an olympic ice surface which should give both teams a lot of room to skate north and south. For BC, they have got to limit UMass' chance on their side of the red line. If it becomes a skating contest, that is fine but I would like to see BC get out to an early lead, much like they did last weekend, and force the Minutemen into some offensive zone turnovers that will result in a bunch of odd man rushes for the Eagles.

No Hockey East game, especially on the road, is a walk in the park. With BC playing real well right now and UMass struggling just to keep pace in Hockey East, this is a perfect trap game. If BC is not ready to play, like they sometimes haven't been in this building, then UMass has a chance. If BC can get it going early and continue to capitalize on the power play, I like their chances.

Scouting UMass- 

Rank- Not ranked. 8th in Hockey East.

Team offense- 51st (2.10 goals per game)

Team defense- 49th. (3.70 goals per game)

Power play- 4th (28.57 %)

Penalty Killing- 44th (78.2 %)

Keys for the Eagles- 

1. Just continue to do what they have been doing. Playing uptempo, Eagle hockey. It sounds cliche, but it is true.

2. UMass has a good power play. BC has got to stay out of the box.

3. Pressure these young, inexperienced goaltenders. Make them win the game for UMass.

Go Eagles

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