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September 21, 2016

UMass falls in exhibition match to New Brunswick

Two late goals made it interesting, but a 3-0 deficit in the first period was too much for the Massachusetts hockey team to overcome as the Minutemen dropped their exhibition match against New Brunswick, 3-2.

Sophomores Casey Wellman and T.J. Syner each scored for UMass in the third period to bring some drama to the game in the closing minutes. After the slow start, the Minutemen had several opportunities to score, but early season frustrations, along with the stellar play of Reds goalkeeper Travis Fullerton (29 saves), ended the Minutemen’s comeback bid.

“We definitely got better as the game went on, but you can’t spot teams three goals,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We learned a lot about ourselves at this point in the year as to what is going to get in the way.”

With three goals allowed in the first period, the Minutemen did not get the performance they had wanted coming out of the gates. Throughout the period, the Reds consistently controlled the puck while converting on UMass mistakes.

The Minutemen tallied only three shots in the period, with none coming on an early power play. SBU, meanwhile, got off nine shots, but picked their spots. The Reds struck when UMass goalie Paul Dainton was out of position and on defensive miscues.

John Scott Dickson had two goals in the period, the second coming on a power play, as the Reds came out strong with the Minutemen back on their heels.

“They just came out ready to play,” Wellman said. “They came ready to play right off the bat and as a collective group we weren’t and they jumped out on top of us, they were making consistent plays and they caught us off guard.”

A miscue behind the UMass blue line led to the final goal of the period as Taylor Procyshen stole the puck darted to the net and snapped a shot past Dainton for the goal.

After the slow start in the first period, the Minutemen came out in the second with a renewed fervor. Starting with a penalty on New Brunswick’s Bretton Stamler, UMass regained momentum in the game.

UMass outshot New Brunswick 16-7 in the second period as the physicality of the game shifted and the Minutemen gained control on the offensive end and the flow of the game. UMass did everything it could in the second period. That is, everything but score a goal.

“I thought the game really improved as it went, in terms of the integrity of our play. We won some battles, we made some plays, we got some shots. If you look at the shots, you can see it really changed as the game went on. That doesn’t solve all of our problems, but it’s a pretty good start,” Cahoon said.

Despite being outshot by six in the first period, the Minutemen had more on the game, edging out the Reds shot wise, 31-28.

The spark that was present in the second period finally turned into goals for UMass. Just under five minutes onto the third period, Casey Wellman knifed through the Reds defense into the slot and fired a shot passed Fullerton to give the Minutemen their first goal.

It looked as though the game was in hand for the Reds until, with a couple minutes left, the Minutemen pulled Dainton and added another score when Syner got one past Fullerton with one minute, 14 seconds left.

The late score brought a sense of urgency to the game that had been absent from the first period. As opposed to the first 59 minutes of the game, the final minute unfolded with the game in the air. Right off of his goal, Syner made a great defensive play, putting a stopper on a New Brunswick breakaway with the empty net behind him to preserve the one-goal lead. Time, though, was not on UMass’ side as the Reds held on to preserve the win.

Among UMass’ struggles was its lack of success on special teams. The Minutemen were 0-for-5 on power plays with six shots and went shotless on two opportunities while the Reds went 1-for-4 with four shots.

As a precautionary measure, senior defenseman Martin Nolet did not dress for the game to nurse a minor injury.

Nick O’Malley can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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