Despite resilient and gritty play, the young Massachusetts hockey team has yet to win a game this season.
On Saturday, the Minutemen (0-3-1, 0-1-1 Hockey East) played its home-opener against No. 8 Boston University (3-0-1, 1-0-1 HEA), losing 4-3 in front of a home-opening record crowd of 7,021.
Both teams opened their conference schedules against each other on Oct 16, when they tied, 2-2. In that game, UMass rookie goaltender Jeff Teglia got the start due to senior Paul Dainton’s injury, stopping 33-of-35 shots. With Dainton not yet 100 percent, Teglia started on Saturday, again registering 33 saves.
“I’m really happy with my first two performances,” Teglia said. “It was just an unbelievable home crowd tonight. I had a ton of fun out there. I thought I gave my team a chance to win both nights, and I think it’s really coming along.”
Despite being outshot 10-4 in the first period, it was UMass which notched the game’s first goal, coming on a power play, as sophomore Darren Rowe scored his first of two goals on the night. Senior Danny Hobbs started the play with a pass down low to freshman Troy Power. Power took a shot on net, which deflected off BU’s goaltender, Kieran Millan, into the right faceoff circle. Rowe, pinching in from the point, gathered the puck and shot it over Millan for his third goal of the season, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Despite not scoring a goal in his rookie season last year, two of Rowe’s team-leading four goals have come on the power play, which has struggled to find consistency amidst the roster’s inexperience.
“It’s still a work in progress,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said, referring to the power play. “Rowe certainly has found his way, though; he’s got a nice feel.”
The 1-0 lead dissipated quickly in the second period, as the Terriers scored three unanswered goals.
“We played pretty hard in the first period but struggled with their strength down low right from the beginning,” Cahoon said. “You could see that when they cycled pucks or spread us out in the zone; they would get their bodies between the puck and [our players]. They were able to possess the puck more than we would’ve liked them to.”
With one minute, 33 seconds remaining in the second period and UMass at the tail-end of a power play, BU’s captain Joe Pereira made it 3-1 on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box. UMass’ Conor Allen fanned on the final shot of the power play, giving BU’s Chris Connolly possession. Connolly then found Pereira behind the UMass defense, and he slid a backhand shot between Teglia’s legs.
“Pereira put a strong move on Teglia,” Cahoon said. “[BU’s] goals were goal-scorers’ goals.”
UMass showed its resilience in the third period, when Rowe scored his second goal on a seeing-eye shot from the point, making it 3-2.
The Minutemen could not overcome critical mistakes made in the third, though, as BU’s Sahir Gill scored the game-winner on a breakaway resulting from a broken play in UMass’ defensive end.
“In the third period we battled back and made a game of it but then made a bonehead play that just gave the game back,” Cahoon said. “The mistakes that were made continue to be young mistakes with young players either losing their poise or not following through on an assignment.”
With 19 seconds remaining and Teglia pulled for the man advantage, Michael Marcou made it 4-3 with a slap shot from the point. The Minutemen could not score the equalizer in the final seconds.
“It’s frustrating that we can’t pull out any wins,” Rowe said. “It’s good that we’re finishing strong, though. The second period got away from us and we have to make sure to play hard for 60 minutes.”
Steve Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.