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November 30, 2016

Minutemen split home-and-home with Providence, take first loss of year

On Halloween weekend, the Massachusetts hockey team split a home-and-home series with Providence and had its hopes of remaining undefeated foiled by Friars’ goalie Alex Beaudry.

The sophomore recorded a career-high 47 saves and outplayed the No. 17 Minutemen goaltender Paul Dainton who recorded 26 saves and allowed only two goals in Saturday’s 2-1 contest.

After dropping the game the night before at home, the Friars came out of the gates strong, picking up a goal from Kyle MacKinnon six minutes, 15 seconds into the game. UMass (4-1-0, 3-1-0 Hockey East) outshot Providence (4-2-0, 1-1-0 HEA), 15-10 in the opening period, but Beaudry deflected every shot the Minutemen threw at him.

Midway through the second period, the Friars extended their lead to two goals with a score from Matt Bergland. Thanks to a Providence penalty, UMass received a chance to get on the board towards the end of frame, but had opportunities stopped by the unyielding Beaudry.

Finally breaking through, the Minutemen closed the gap to one on a power play in an attempt to make a comeback in the third period. Matt Irwin scored his second goal of the weekend series, giving him a score in seven of the previous eight games dating back to last season. This season, 11 of UMass’ 19 goals have come through power-play situations.

The comeback would stop there, however, as Beaudry was unrelenting and stymied the Minutemen the rest of the game, almost singlehandedly serving UMass its first loss of the season.

“I thought [Beaudry] saw the puck extremely well, there were a lot of point shots,” Providence coach Tim Army said after the win. “I think he found his way through traffic real well and I don’t think he gave them a lot of second opportunities.”

UMass coach Don Cahoon wasn’t impressed with his team’s effort and felt they didn’t play tough enough to win.

“We weren’t up to the task of meeting them head on and for two periods we floated around and played at the end of our sticks,” he said. “We didn’t play as hard and determined and gritty, as I like to say, as we need to.”

Beaudry rebounded after allowing a season-high five goals, including three in the third period the night before in a 5-3 loss.

On Friday in Providence, the Minutemen overcame a 3-2 deficit heading into the final period by scoring three unanswered goals.

Schneider Arena’s smaller ice surface proved to not be a challenge for UMass early on, with the first goal of the game coming seven minutes into the first period. With a crowd of players in front of Beaudry, the Minutemen were able to capitalize on a power play as sophomore Casey Wellman flipped the puck into the net for his third goal of the season, all coming by way of the man advantage.

The Friars responded towards the end of the period, knotting the game at one on their second power-play chance. Jordan Kremyr took a pass from teammate Matt Germain and poured in his first goal of the season.

Though Providence controlled the puck for most of the period and outshot UMass, 13-7, it was unable to take a lead. The roles were reversed, however, in the second period as the Minutemen led in shots, 15-7, while Providence was able to keep the contest tied at two apiece.

In the final period, the Friars took their second lead of the game, scoring just three minutes into the set. That marked the last score for Providence, though, as the UMass defense and Dainton were able to limit the Friars’ opportunities while the offense went on a scoring charge.

The Minutemen scored twice in the span of 22 seconds, receiving the tying goal from Martin Nolet and the eventual game-winning score from Brian Keane. James Marcou capped the game off with an empty net score in the last 40 seconds to tally a goal in his second straight contest. Dainton finished the night with 35 saves and picked up his fourth victory of the season.

UMass will look to get back on track Friday when it hosts Niagara at the Mullins Center.

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

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