By Staff Writer Thomas Griffin.
The UMassD Men’s Hockey team enters the MASCAC playoffs seeded second, after a long and arduous season of proving their worth.
Keen-eyed viewers of this team’s past few articles will recall that Corsair Hockey has been in a position of potential greatness for months. Seated comfortably behind Plymouth State as the second-best team in MASCAC, the team has spent January and February attempting to punch above their weight and take a stern lead going into playoffs.
Featuring an all-star cast of offensive pieces like Brendan McDonough, Steven Leonard and Eric Bolden, an unforgiving power play, and an absolute need to run up the score on teams, this offensive powerhouse looked ready to blow up on the MASCAC scene. They did so, but not in a good way.
It started with their anticipated rematch against Plymouth State. Having tied and outlasted the behemoth before, they looked prepared to show the Panthers who really ruled the conference. They were the best, most suitable David to topple MASCAC’s proverbial Goliath.
Instead, the Corsairs took more of a second-fiddle position to Plymouth State, losing the rematch 4-2. Having never beaten the Panthers, and only tying them once, they seemed doomed to be the Capitols to Plymouth State’s Penguins, or the Maple Leafs to their Bruins: close, but never close enough.
Two days following their loss to the Panthers came a 4-3 setback to a lesser rival in Westfield State. The Owls, ranked third in MASCAC, smothered the Corsair defense with back-to-back second period goals that UMassD could never recover from. The Corsairs retained their second-place seeding by half a game, but looked to be vulnerable to teams both above and below them.
The team somewhat found their stride in a 6-3 steamrolling of Framingham State (a team that’s 2-19-1 and winless in-conference, ouch) that featured five straight unanswered goals and three points rattled off in less than two minutes. While it’s not the best opponent for the Corsairs to be facing, it’s a demonstration of what UMassD can do when they play to the best of their ability.
Rounding out the last game of the season in a 2-2 overtime deadlocked tie to Worcester State, the Corsairs seemed to float through the end of their season with nothing short of mediocrity – one win, one loss, one tie. As a team likely to win it all, they dropped important decisions, swept easy ones, and were even upset once or twice.
Heading into playoffs, it’s important to know that, while momentum might not be on their side, their talent is present. Their major existing flaw lies in raw execution on match night. When firing on all cylinders, the Corsairs are certainly poised to win big games. Time will tell if they can get over their unfortunate late-game woes and win their way through the playoffs.