August 22, 2014

No. 15 UMass drops worst loss in four years

HockAThe 7-1 loss to Boston College on Friday was something the Massachusetts hockey team already endured. It was over four years ago and to the same team.

The last time UMass was dominated in such a fashion was in the 2005-2006 season, when the Minutemen suffered a 7-0 shutout to BC (15-8-2, 11-6-2 Hockey East) on Dec. 9.

In the three seasons following that loss, UMass (16-11-0, 11-9-0 HEA) never dropped a game by six or more goals until Friday.

Defense for the Minutemen was absent for much of the contest, allowing four scores in the first period and three in the second period.

UMass coach Don Cahoon felt that his team was making mental errors rather than just being outplayed by the Eagles.

“It was a series of bone-head plays and lack of energy and competitiveness,” Cahoon said. “We stood around and watched and circled away from the play. The breakdown in the first goal was just not a hold in coverage, a simple proposition. The second goal was off of a faceoff, we don’t find the puck, so instead of staying on the inside position, we take a guess and get caught on the wrong side of the puck.”

Though the play in between the pipes didn’t help the Minutemen, Cahoon didn’t place all of the blame for the seven goals on his goaltenders, Paul Dainton and Dan Meyers.

“The first four goals that Paul gave up, three of them were okay,” Cahoon said. “The only one that was bad was the fourth one where the guy came in and Paul had a chance to stand up and play him aggressively. He instead ended up sitting down and the puck went under him. Meyers played well until [BC] knocked a few in, but I can’t blame it on the goaltending yet.”

The goaltending situation on Friday was similar to the one in UMass’ 5-4 loss to then-No. 9 Quinnipiac on Nov. 28. In that game, Meyers started but allowed three scores in the first frame. Dainton replaced him beginning in the second period and allowed the Minutemen to fight back to send the game into overtime.

Against the Eagles, however, the roles were reversed. After allowing four goals in the first frame, Dainton was benched for Meyers. This time, though, the Minutemen couldn’t assemble a comeback.

Watson leading on and off ice

Being a captain means providing leadership and direction on and off the ice. Senior Brett Watson has done just that this season, leading the Minutemen to a third-place standing in the Hockey East and a national ranking.

Despite his team coming out flat-footed and seemingly undetermined against BC, Cahoon did find one positive in his team after Friday’s loss.

“Brett Watson was typical Brett Watson all night long, and if we had 19 other players that play as hard as he does, we may be talking a different game. It’s interesting because he was sick in bed all week, came out of bed [Thursday] to play [Friday], and he was still our most determined player.”

Off the ice, Watson plays an instrumental role in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters volunteer program. He also helps his teammates with volunteer projects in surrounding communities.

For his efforts, Watson is one of 18 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award for being college hockey’s “best citizen.”

Watson is a three-time Hockey East Academic All-Conference selection, a dean’s list student and a three-time recipient of the UMass Hockey Team’s Unsung Hero Award – an honor that goes to the player who contributes the most to the team, but does not get the recognition others do.

Jay Asser can be reached at jasser@student.umass.edu.

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