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February 23, 2017

Marcou brothers, Dainton strong as Minutemen win its third in a row

Maxwell Sparr

(Maxwell Sparr / Collegian)

A brother-to-brother connection provided the key score while Paul Dainton played efficiently in goal Friday night, to skate the Massachusetts hockey team past Maine 5-3 at the Mullins Center.

In the first period, the Minutemen (3-0-0, 2-0-0 Hockey East) got off to a fast start, netting three goals to force the Black Bears (1-4-0, 0-1-0 HEA) to play from behind all night.

Though Maine scored only one goal in the frame due to a breakdown in the UMass zone, UMass coach Don Cahoon felt the score could have been flip-flopped if not for Dainton.

“I thought Maine carried the play there in the first period with the exception of our power play execution and we could’ve been in trouble if [Dainton] didn’t give the type of goaltending that he gave us,” Cahoon said after the game. “Instead of going off the ice with a 3-1 win, we could’ve gone off the ice losing by two.”

Dainton continued to be a strong presence in net throughout the game, swatting away 26 Maine shots. Despite allowing three goals, the junior goalkeeper never allowed the Black Bears’ to gain momentum. Even when Maine climbed back within one score midway through the second period, Dainton held off the Maine attack long enough for a Marcou to Marcou goal to provide separation for UMass.

Though junior forward James Marcou leads the Minutemen squad in points, it was his brother, sophomore defenseman Michael Marcou, who scored the pivotal goal to kill a comeback attempt by the Black Bears. After picking off a pass, the elder Marcou skated into the Maine zone and held the puck until reinforcements arrived. Michael Marcou caught up and found an opening to receive a feed from his brother to punch it in net for his first collegiate goal.

“Yeah, we drew it up just like that too,” Cahoon joked. “We’ve just spent a long time talking to James about just getting the patience. Everyone in the building’s yelling ‘shoot, shoot’ and he’s got some other idea. Michael’s probably the only one on the ice that had an idea of what he was thinking because he’s been around him so much.”

In a physical game where the two teams accounted for 97 penalty minutes, the power play unit of the Minutemen was a significant factor.

When the shots were even at 29, UMass was opportunistic with its chances when it had the man advantage and went 3-for-6 on the power play. The Minutemen were also able to limit the Black Bears when they were undermanned, holding them to 1-for-4.

Cahoon was impressed with how the Minutemen were able to stay poised amidst the frequent scuffles and penalty calls throughout the game.

“I give my guys pretty good grades, being able to keep themselves composed and be able to play forward,” he said. “I think that allowed us to execute in a couple of the power play situations from that point on and take the game over.”

UMass’ 3-0-0 start to the season is its best since 2003-04 when the Minutemen won four consecutive games before finally suffering their first loss. UMass will look to match the strong start of nearly six years ago in a matchup against Providence in its first road game of the season on Friday night.

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

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