Saturday, October 25, 2014

Previewing the UMass Minutemen

Fresh off two dominant victories over a couple of inferior opponents, the Eagles will play their first home conference game tonight @ 7 PM vs the UMass Minutemen. While UMass had a lopsided loss vs Boston University a couple weeks back, they have won two of their last three games, one @ Michigan State and last night @ Northeastern. The Minutemen, like BC, lost their three top scorers from a season ago but unlike the Eagles, they also lost their two best defensemen. They're expected to start a whopping 7 freshmen, including goaltender Henry Dill, who stood on his last night, stopping 42 of 44 Huskie shots. Many "experts" had the maroon and white either last or second to last in their preseason rankings but at this point, they're sitting comfortably in a tie for first and in the top 30 in the pairwise. Yes, it's very early.

Without a doubt, this is going to be a much stiffer test than last night. Let's face it, while UMass has only beat us once @ Kelly Rink since 2006, they always make it a game. They play a style eerily similar to that of BC's, up tempo, lot of quick skaters, and as a result of that, they sometimes breakdown big time in their own end (they gave up 6 goals in the third period @ home vs BU). The most intriguing story line of the night is former BC commit Frank Vatrano's return to the Heights. After an academic issue early in the 2012-13 season, the staff was forced to cut ties with the Springfield native. Shortly after, Vatrano transferred to UMass although he had to sit out all of last season as well due to transfer rules. So far this season, he doesn't have a point but he does headline their top line along with freshman center Dennis Kravchenko and senior Troy Power. While that line certainly possesses some fire power, I think UMass' two big guns are sophomores Ray Pigozzi and Steve Iacobellis. I remember being impressed with the speed and skill of those guys last season when they came in here and almost beat BC @ Kelly Rink for the second consecutive season.

As you can tell, the biggest thing the Eagles have to watch out for is UMass' speed. They can skate really well and could cause a lot of problems for the Eagles if they catch BC off guard on the forecheck. In terms of where BC can expose these guys? They're very weak on the defensive end, especially in their own end. In the second half of last night's game, the Eagles did a great job of not only getting the puck deep, but they sustained the play in CC's end for large chunks of time, wearing the Tigers down which eventually led to an onslaught. BC's size, superior defensive depth, and the fact that UMass is coming off a physical back and fourth battle 24 hours ago, are all signals pointing to a third straight but I don't there is anyone in that locker room who believes this will be a cake walk such as the past two games have been. Every league point is massive, especially the ones at home. the Minutemen took one of three points BC gave up at home in the regular season last year, the other two went to Notre Dame.

Scouting UMass-

Record- 2-2 (losses vs BU, MSU. Wins vs MSU, NU)

Leading scorers- Zack LaRue (2-2-4), Steven Iacobellis (2-2-4), Ray Pigozzi (1-3-4)

Projected starter- Freshman Henry Dill (2-0, .911 save percentage)

NHL draft picks- 1 (Ben Gallacher, Florida) Has missed their past two games

Goals per game- 2.75 (31st)

Goals allowed per game- 4.50 (52nd)

Power play- 13% (31st)

Penalty kill- 94% (8th)

Penalty minutes per game- 9.00 minutes per game (42nd)


Last meeting- Tie last November @ Kelly Rink

All time series- BC leads 55-13-14

Coach York is 2 wins shy of his 500th at the Heights.

Keys for BC-

Contain their speed. Turning the puck over in the neutral zone won't help at all.

They can't take three penalties right off the bat again. Not a formula for success.

Continue to get secondary scoring. They've had it in two of three games so far, those two games have been wins.

Go Eagles

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