Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

Minutemen play best hockey with their backs against the wall

Facing a late-season collapse, the Massachusetts hockey team stepped up with a pair of wins over the weekend against Maine to earn a spot in the Hockey East tournament.

Despite losing six-straight games, the Minutemen (18-16-0, 13-14-0 HEA) still had an opportunity to get into the playoffs with a weekend sweep over the No. 17-ranked Black Bears (16-15-3, 13-12-2 HEA) at Alfond Arena.

With its back against the wall, UMass came through with a 5-2 win on Friday, followed by the 4-3 playoff-clinching win the following night at a venue where it had not won since the 2003-04 season.

On Saturday, the Minutemen continued their momentum, scoring three goals in the final 10 minutes of the first period. Sophomore Casey Wellman scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season on a loose puck in front of the Maine net to give UMass a lead that wasn’t surmounted.

Just one minute, 44 seconds later, senior Justin Braun added a second score when he skated around a defender and beat freshman goaltender Shawn Sirman for his sixth goal of the year. Following the score, Sirman was replaced by Dave Wilson between the pipes and the Black Bears responded with a goal of their own from Jeff Dimmen to close the gap.

In the final minute of the frame, Braun recorded his second goal of the contest while UMass was on a five-on-three power play to increase the lead back to two.

Maine received a power play opportunity in the first few minutes of the second period and capitalized with Gustav Nyquist’s 18th goal of the season. The rest of the frame, however, went in favor of the Minutemen as senior Brett Watson netted UMass’ final goal of the contest with his third score in as many games.

Other than a last-minute goal, goaltender Paul Dainton stopped several Black Bear opportunities in the final period to preserve the win for the Minutemen. The junior made 35 saves in all, including 13 in the third frame to earn one of his most significant victories.

It was much of the same the previous night when UMass built up an early lead and held on for a 5-2 win. Despite being outshot 27-24 by Maine, it was the Minutemen who had the offensive outpour, receiving multi-point nights from four players.

Sophomore T.J. Syner got the scoring started early with his seventh goal of the season just 52 seconds into the game. The remainder of the opening period, however, was an offensive struggle, as both teams’ defenses reduced scoring opportunities.

The Minutemen dominated the second frame, scoring three times to take a commanding 4-0 lead and forcing the Black Bears to replace Sirman with Wilson in goal. Braun netted two goals in the period, while sophomore Matt Irwin scored his seventh goal of the season on a shot atop the faceoff circle.

In an attempt to make a comeback, Maine got on the board towards the end of the frame with a power play goal from Spencer Abbott. Midway through the final period, the Black Bears scored their second goal as Will O’Neil deflected a shot off the post to score his sixth goal of the year.

Maine wouldn’t come any closer though, as Dainton and the UMass defense held off the Black Bears’ attack to keep the playoff hopes of the Minutemen alive.

With the pair of wins, UMass advances to face Boston College in the Hockey East Quarterfinals next weekend at Chestnut Hill.

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

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