Last night, the UMass Minutemen took on the American International College Yellow Jackets in a non-conference matchup at Fortress Mullins.
Yes, AIC, best known for, well, being a school nobody knows much of anything about, unless they have an unusually large knowledge of obscure D1 hockey programs (Hi). AIC is located in Springfield, MA, has produced a grand total of one NHL player (Dave Forbes), and has not had a winning season since 1994, when they went 14-12 as a D-1 independent. In 11 years of competing in the Atlantic Hockey Association, AIC has managed to crack double digit wins exactly one time, amassing a 75-250-35 record in those 11 seasons.
Those Yellow Jackets went in to Mullins last night and defeated the Minutemen 3-2, winning the Battle of Western Mass. and adding more pain for fans of UMass hockey. UMass is now 6-15-3 on the year, with losses to UConn and AIC on their resume. This coming on the heels of last season, when the Minutemen missed the Hockey East playoffs.
In all fairness, UMass outshot AIC 58-19 last night, so you can chalk the loss up as much to the vagaries and craziness of hockey as anything. After all, BC lost to Holy Cross, and UMass-Lowell lost to Sacred Heart.
That line of thinking would be okay, though, if you were just looking at this game in isolation. But we can't -and a scan through the UMass hockey twitterverse reveals some fairly discontented fans at the state of their program.
It's hard to blame them. Sure, UMass might be in a tough spot trying to compete against multiple established powerhouses in their own region. Nobody expects UMass to win recruiting battles against BC, BU, UNH, or Maine. But if I'm a UMass fan, I'm looking at sister campus Lowell and wondering how they managed to not only go to a Frozen Four, but also build some reasonable sustained success, while the flagship has languished, making just one NCAA appearance (2006-07) in their history.
More galling than that: widening the scope a bit, of the 5 public universities currently competing in Hockey East - UNH, Maine, UMass, UMass-Lowell, and Vermont - UMass is the only one without a Frozen Four appearance. Looking at UConn coming into Hockey East with Mike Cavanaugh at the helm, it's hard not to think they have every chance of getting there sooner than UMass does at this point.
So, what's up? Is what ails UMass hockey fixable, or are they condemned to status as perennial Hockey East also-rans, waiting for another Jonathan Quick to give them any hope of competing? Or can proper investments and the right coach bring UMass to the level Lowell is enjoying now, and Vermont enjoyed a few years back?
The Minutemen do have Frank Vatrano laying in the weeds, ready to contribute in the Hockey East playoffs, but let's be honest, he won't be enough to turn this mess around. It will be interesting to see what the future of that program holds, because it would be hard for them to dip much lower than they are right now.
Look, more UMass news!
Massachusetts hopes Mark Whipple can replicate the success in his second stint with the team as he had in his first, when he coached the Minutemen to the NCAA Division 1-AA national championship.
And, football stuff closer to home:
Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy has transferred to Boston College to play for Steve Addazio in his senior season.
With the graduation of Chase Rettig, Boston College will be hurting for experience at quarterback next season, but the Eagles may have found a stopgap solution. According to reports on SI.com and CBSSports.com, former University of Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy is transferring to BC.
The filing highlights a published remark by then-Boston College athletic director Gene Defilippo in 2011: "We always keep our television partners close to us . . . ESPN is the one who told us what to do." DeFilippo later apologized for the remark and said he misspoke.
The report continued, "things are never as good or as bad as they seem."
So when Pitt called Penn State (confirmed) and Wake Forest called Vanderbilt (assumed) SUNJ/Northwestern (assumed) you can bet they were either laughed at or simply ignored. When you're trying to win Chevrolet, you send Draper. You don't send Bob Benson and Ginsberg. The ACC sent Benson and Ginsberg.
No, not like Notre Dame Irish, but, like, Irish Irish, or Irish-American; this Irish website discusses the top football players of Irish descent. Random, but hey, Matty Ice shoutout.
18. Matt Ryan: "Matty Ice" quarterbacks the Atlanta Falcons and brought them to the verge of the Super Bowl in 2012 but lost to San Francisco in the NFC title game at home. A Philadelphia Irish kid, he was a star performer at Boston College in his college days.
Getting to Know Ryan Anderson from BC Men's Basketball
And, puck news not related to UMass vs. AIC:
BC needs more than one line
The numbers Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes have put together since Jerry York stuck the group on the same line seven games ago are plainly overwhelming. In those games, the group has accounted for 40 points, and BC is 6-0-1 in that time. There aren't many teams that can boast a line with this type of talent. As the season goes on, the group will likely generate offense at a pretty normal rate.
However, the goal for BC is never just a good regular season. Trophies are the goal in Chestnut Hill. And it's difficult to win tournaments and championships without contributions throughout the lineup.
Having seen Friday's Providence-Boston College game in person, I can say with certainty that the result of that game was much more about how well BC played as opposed to the Friars and Jon Gillies playing poorly. That was quite possibly the best the BC offense has looked all year, at times pinning PC in its own end for minutes on end.
All of that said, if Providence has high hopes of winning the Hockey East regular season title, something that most feel is possible, it will have to find a way to solve Boston College. That is the challenge for all of the Hockey East teams as right now, as at 8-1-1 in Hockey East play, the Eagles seem dominant.
"We don't give him a lot of run support, I think he's starting to get used to that," DeBoer said after Schneider's 1-0 shutout vs. the Dallas Stars. Then he added with a smirk, "He's figured it out that he just has to pitch a shutout."
And we leave you with this USCHO fan forum post outlining the 22 players who have departed the BU hockey program early since their title in 2009:
Kicked out for studying too much/quit/in prison (ok I made that up):
1. saponari vin
2. saponari vic
Left for the pros/hated Jack Parker (see above)