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March 22, 2017

UMass defeats Coast Guard and falls to rival UConn

After a fiery, dominant battle against Coast Guard, the Massachusetts men’s club hockey team lost its edge when it went toe-to-toe with rival Connecticut.

The Minutemen (14-4-0) celebrated Military Appreciation night this past Friday, when they honored military workers at the Mullins Center by facing off against the Bears (1-7-0).

“It was well-received, and it did well,” UMass coach Robert Talloni said.

After the raffles, the prizes, and all the dust was settled, the scoreboard showed UMass topping Coast Guard, 10-3.

“You never know, year-to-year, how they’re going to do,” Talloni said. “This particular year, we were probably a little too strong for them. They are in the NECHA league, and they weren’t maybe as competitive as they wanted.”

Assistant captain Julian Maleski proved to be an important factor in the game, dishing out four assists in the contest. The absence of captain Alec Goolsby, who leads the team in assists, gave Maleski the opportunity to play well.

A pair of goals were scored by forwards Brian Dragunas and Craig Cardone, with Cardone racking up an assist during the game as well.

“We gave everybody a lot of chances to get some ice time,” Talloni said. “It was a good night, and we like to thank them for what they do for our country.”

Despite letting in three goals, goalie Mark Leonard stopped 30 shots. Across the ice, Bears goaltender Mark Ryan stopped 61 shots during the contest (an average of one save per minute).

“He did a fantastic job,” Talloni said.

The next match for the Minutemen, however, did not go as well as UMass went skate-to-skate with the Huskies (8-7-3).

“We went there, and we were up for the game – big game for us,” Talloni said.

It was a back-and-forth battle between the two NECHA American West division rivals.

The first period saw two successful scores by UConn, giving the Huskies an early edge over the Minutemen. Coming back into the second period, UMass started quickly in trying to cut into the deficit.

“We came right back, top of the second period, and after the first or second shift – bang,” Talloni said.

Once the Minutemen got a goal back, the Huskies turned on the jets and knocked in two goals to take a 4-1 lead.

Following the back and forth pattern of the game, the Minutemen also scored two straight goals to come within one goal of UConn. It was a lead, however, that the Huskies never surrendered as they narrowly beat the Minutemen, 6-5.

“On the five-on-five, we were dominant,” Talloni said. “[Overall] they didn’t dominate us, and we didn’t dominate them.”

The Huskies will head to the Mullins Center this Friday for a rematch as the Minutemen look to even the score. With UConn at the head of the NECHA American West division, even more pressure will be placed on the game.

“We’re ready to see them Friday night at our place,” Talloni said. “We’re going to tweak some stuff, and I’m sure their coach will look to tweak some stuff.”

After the rematch, the Minutemen will take on fellow division team Sacred Heart before taking off a month for winter break.

“I think it’s a time for us to really get our game going with these five games around the holidays,” Talloni said.

When hockey picks back up in the spring, there will be tryouts for new additions for the team. On Jan. 11, the UMass club hockey team will be holding open tryouts at the Mullins Center.

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

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