By Staff Writer Tom Griffin.
In the game that decided the current lead in MASCAC men’s hockey conference, the Corsairs unfortunately dropped the ball (or puck) on upsetting Plymouth State, losing 4-2.
Before the start of February, the Corsairs showed immense promise as the dark horse candidate to sweep the MASCAC in the later part of the season.
The group rattled off blowout win after blowout win, in a series of games headlined by a dramatic 3-point third period comeback tie against the current conference powerhouse Plymouth State Panthers.
The team had found its strengths in scoring efficiency, power plays, and an iron-willed goalie. All they had left to do was finish off the season as strong as possible with what they had developed.
Tides looked to be turning in UMassD’s favor when the Corsairs salted the earth (ice) of Salem State in an 8-1 clinic on how to get a goalie cut.
This was all in anticipation of the next biggest game: a rematch against the still-leading Plymouth State squad they had only managed to tie the month prior.
With momentum at their skates and the wind in their sails, they looked capable of giving the Panthers something to worry about.
Unfortunately, that tailwind turned out to be little more than a stiff breeze in the February winter as Plymouth State took an early lead and never looked back.
The Panthers scored two goals early in the second period and managed to double it nearing the end of the third.
The Corsairs’ highly-lucrative power play efficiency was lost like dust in that metaphorical wind, scoring only once on six total power plays, with the one goal coming from Brendan McDonough, albeit in garbage time with only 35 seconds remaining in regulation. The only other Corsairs highlight came on a Cameron Mack goal to end the second period trailing 2-1.
To cherry-pick a positive, the Corsairs kept the first period scoreless against the powerhouse Panthers squad itching to outscore an equally powerful UMassD offense. Much to the same vein as their previous encounter, where the Corsairs managed to hold the Panthers scoreless in both the third and overtime, the UMassD squad currently has every piece they need to outperform the objectively best team in MASCAC. The only problem they’ve been encountering so far is execution.
They’ll go from an impenetrable front line one period to allowing three goals in five minutes the next.
Winning it all against Plymouth State is possible, but it comes down to near perfect performance – to rigid defense, to unforgiving offense, and to holding themselves to that standard for three straight periods.
While I don’t see this team missing MASCAC playoffs, doing well and going further than the first few rounds is going to come down to polishing the team identity that they’ve developed thus far, and proving that it can work for the remaining few matches in the season.