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September 21, 2016

Minutemen still undefeated after beating Millersville, Central Connecticut

After seven battles on the ice, the UMass club hockey team stands tall with an undefeated record, including two victories this past weekend over Millersville and Central Connecticut.

“We had some fun, we got some wins under our belts,” said head coach Robert Talloni.

Following the UMass varsity team’s defeat over No. 3 Boston University, the club team took the ice to try and continue the winning ways of the Minutemen.

“Any time you can watch hockey at a high level, you get inspired,” Talloni said.

The first match of the weekend was against the Marauders (0-6-0), with the Minutemen returning to their home turf. Millersville did little to stop UMass’ offense, as it allowed six goals to find their way to the back of the net.

“We were certainly in control the whole game. It was hard work, we didn’t quit,” Talloni said.

The Marauders had to settle for two goals, scored by forwards Dave Rothrock and Josh Schultz. For Rothrock, this was his second goal of the season, the first being scored in Millersville’s season opening 8-5 loss to Rider.

For the Minutemen offense, which has 40 goals-scored thus far in the season, things did not slow down. Captain Alec Goolsby put in his sixth goal of the season (25th of his career) during the game. Goolsby also had two assists in the contest (seventh of the season, 56th of his collegiate career).

While forward Brian Dragunas continued his on-going offensive attack with a goal for UMass, four Minutemen defenders lit up the scoreboard. The three goals by the defense came from Richard Gallagher, Michael Noce, Dan Cusano, and Craig Charest. For Gallagher, Cusano, and Charest, these were their first goals of the season. Noce scored one other goal on Oct. 9 against local rival Westfield State.

“The forwards blocked the goalies vision and had the defenders shoot. We encourage the defenders to score more,” said Talloni.

With the defensive scoring, it can be seen that the entire team is contributing the effort. “Our players are unselfish and pass to the open man. It takes a lot of pressure off the forwards,” Talloni said.

The Minutemen’s second match of the weekend was three years in the making. Taking on the Blue Devils (2-2-0), UMass was well prepared for the game. Both teams had continuous offensive outputs in a match that featured 14 goals, with the Minutemen getting the 8-6 victory.

Seven minutes into the match, UMass found itself down 2-0 to Central Connecticut. Despite falling into a hole, the Minutemen continued to press on. “It was amazing. We willed ourselves to win that game. The bench was all positive; there was no cheering, no shouting. We just simply said, ‘we’re going to win this game’,” Talloni said.

UMass remained behind for a majority of the game, with the Blue Devils outscoring the Minutemen 5-2. With the will to win still within the team, UMass rallied and scored five-straight goals to lead by one.

“The next five games we got. We took command of the game, it was just unbelievable,” Talloni said.

Behind by one goal, Central Connecticut pulled its goalie in order to provide more offense. Goolsby received the puck at the top of the red line, and shot it into the empty net, scoring his third goal of the match.

“They left their whole game on the ice, we died too. We were exhausted,” Talloni said.

Talloni cited the usage of the clock as the key to the mental strain the game puts on the team. “It’s clock management. You’re watching the clock, looking for the time to put in the right players,” he said.

“Games like that, they don’t make character, they show character. They never got down. We were down two, three goals, but we never got down. It was very reminiscent of the old Boston Bruins. We made it happen,” he said.

The upcoming games for the Minutemen are against New Haven and Vermont. The match against the Chargers (2-0-0) is on Oct. 23, with the match against the Catamounts (1-4-0) falling on the following night.

The Oct. 24 match against Vermont is the second meeting of the season for UMass and the Catamounts. In both teams season opener this year, the Minutemen trumped Vermont, 8-1.

With the match against the Catamounts being a regional match, Talloni acknowledged that the pressure is on. “We need to make a statement again, and go out and win that game.”

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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