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February 23, 2017

Minutemen fall to No. 8 UML, No. 15 BC

Jeff Bernstein

LOWELL, Mass. — A hat trick by UMass Lowell’s David Vallorani ended the River Hawks’ three-game losing streak, but extended the Massachusetts hockey team’s longest of the season.

After a 3-1 loss Friday night to Boston College in Amherst, the No. 9 Minutemen dropped their third game in a row Saturday night, as they fell 5-3 to their sister program in Lowell.

“They played hard and they stayed with it,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said after the loss to UML. “We played hard, and we didn’t stay with it, so they get the W.”

A 2-0 lead in the second period was erased when the No. 8 River Hawks scored three unanswered goals, but UMass looked poised to rally in what started out as a sloppy third period for UML. In the first 10 minutes, 31 seconds of the period the River Hawks were called for four two-minute minor penalties.

With UML looking out of sorts, Michael Marcou notched his fourth goal of the season to tie the game at three. Both squads were reduced to four skaters, when  Marcou grabbed the puck off a face off and sent it to T.J. Syner in the neutral zone. Syner then sent a pass back to Marcou who got the pass in the crease and deflected it past UML goalkeeper Nevin Hamilton (23 saves).

The Minutemen had a 5-on-3 advantage for 38 seconds shortly after, when the River Hawks were called for having too many on the ice with UML’s Joe Caveney already in the penalty box for hitting from behind. UMass failed to capitalize on the opportunity, swinging the momentum back into UML’s favor.

UMass finished the night 1-for-6 on the power play, and UML capitalized on one as well, in three chances.

Vallorani notched his second and third goals of the game, completing his hat trick, in less than a three-minute period to put the contest out of reach for the Minutemen.

“The game was there to be had and all it takes is a really sloppy shift,” Cahoon said. “A breakdown where we had possession of the puck a couple of times and gave it back and the next thing you know they are throwing it around and scoring a goal

The River Hawks failed to capitalize on two power-play opportunities in the first period, but the Minutemen made the most of theirs as Will Ortiz notched his fifth goal of the season. After a Danny Hobbs pass deflected off the skate of Michael Lecomte, Ortiz one-timed the shot into the top right corner of the net to put UMass up 1-0 with 5.8 seconds remaining in the period.

Casey Wellman scored his 12th goal of the season off of assists from James Marcou and Matt Irwin to put UMass up 2-0 in the second period. But just over a minute later, UML’s Jeremy Dehner took advantage of a 4-on-3 man advantage to pull the River Hawks within one.

UMass’ Rocco Carzo and UML’s Chris Ickert were called for matching two-minute hitting after the whistle penalties, and 20 seconds later Ortiz would find himself in the penalty box as well, following an elbowing call setting up the power-play chance.

With fewer players on the ice, Dehner took his time after receiving a pass from Nick Schaus, before finding an opening over Paul Dainton’s (33 saves) left shoulder for the River Hawks first goal of the night.

“We come up with the second goal and have a two-goal lead, and obviously they are feeling it and we are in charge and then we lose our discipline, lose our focus and we take a couple of penalties,” Cahoon said. “They end up scoring a goal and it changes the complexion of the game a little bit and then we get sloppy.”

UML tied the game at two, 10 minutes into the period on Vallorani’s first goal of the game. After settling a bouncing puck sent to him by Maury Edwards, Vallorani beat Dainton between his legs. The River Hawks took the lead with 2:24 remaining in the period on a Paul Worthington goal.

Friday night, the Minutemen got out to an early lead as well but would give up another three unanswered goals to Boston College as it fell 3-1, before the fifth largest crowd (8,169) in Mullins Center history.

UMass jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 2:08 into the first period, after forward James Marcou scored his fifth goal of the season and team leading 24th point. Just 17 seconds after the Eagles’ Brian Gibbons was sent to the penalty box for hitting from behind, Chase Langeraap fed a pass to Marcou who beat BC’s goaltender, Milner Parker (23 saves), for the goal.

The power-play goal came against the top penalty kill in the HEA and 12th best in the nation. UMass finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play, while BC went 1-for-5 while on the man advantage.

The Eagles tied it up five minutes later when sophomore Cam Atkinson took a pass from Tommy Cross and fired it past Dainton (29 saves) for the equalizer.

The second period belonged to BC as it took a 2-1 lead 13:16 into the period when Gibbons scored his fourth goal and team-leading 14th point of the season UMass was outshot 16-6. Despite taking only six shots on net, the Minutemen had their opportunities, but failed to capitalize.

The third period saw UMass outshoot the Eagles, 7-5, but none found the net for the Minutemen. Atkinson, however, found the net while on the man advantage with 59 seconds to go. The score was the sophomore’s sixth of the season and second of the night, putting the game out of reach.

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at jlarnard@dailycollegian.com.

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