In a tough, 5-2 loss last night, the UMass Minutemen snapped their 12 game losing streak at Kelley Rink. The worst part? From the stands the game just appeared sloppy. After starting the 1st period with two, consecutive, 5 on 3 advantages, UMass’ tender Mastalerz put aside 14 SOG (8 of them from below the dots) and shut down the Eagles. From there, the offensive production fell off a cliff. The Eagles could only muster 3 SOG in the 2nd and 4 SOG in the 3rd. Simply put, it was a frustrating performance to watch. On six penalties, the Eagles once again could not produce any goals.
Was it all the inability of BC’s offense to produce? I don’t think so. After the game, UMass’ coach talked about how the team had a well thought out strategy to prevent BC from scoring:
If your forwards are coming back hard, and pressing their forwards into the defensemen you’re always gonna have the advantage. It was that teamwork off the rush and our guys did a great job in zone defending away from the puck… Our guys settled down and made sure we defended away and ultimately we feel that was a big reason why we won.
Looking at BC’s depth chart, the defensive corps is very young and could be pointed to as a weakness. Coach Brown disagrees however, stating the blame doesn’t belong to any one group of players:
I think we’re not helping each other as much as we were earlier (in the season). We’re leaving each other a little too much work to do ourselves, we’re not supporting each other quick enough, whether offensively or defensively
Coach McCavanagh also noticed that:
Collectively as a group, we’re not taking care of the puck in the neutral zone… We’re not playing team defense (either)… one of our trademarks is our forwards come back so hard we don’t allow odd-man rushes, and right now that’s not happening
Ultimately, last night it appeared that UMass showed up in Chestnut Hill ready to battle. The Minutemen had a gameplan and executed. BC was unable to really string four, five or six shifts together and eventually that hurt the teams ability to produce scoring chances.
This morning, the writers over at BC Interruption are once again visibly upset but have examined that BC Hockey has always had a January slump in years past.
Gaudreau did have a beautiful behind the back, no-look pass to set up Whitney on a goal that had Mastalrz searching for the puck on the complete wrong post.
The offense needs a little more production going forward, however, BC’s coaches understand exactly what the team is doing wrong and what they need to fix. Coach Brown repeated, almost word for word, what UMass’ Coach Micheletto discussed about their forwards preventing BC’s breakout to develop. The coaches have diagnosed what is causing the last few losses. Now it is needed that the leadership of the team helps the players make the proper adjustments.
The Eagles have a chance to get right back on track tonight against Northeastern, hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come back on and give a more upbeat analysis of tonight’s game.