UMass bounces back with offensive explosion to earn weekend split
BOSTON – What a difference 24 hours can make.
On Friday night the Massachusetts hockey team was shutout by Northeastern senior goalie Chris Rawlings, but Saturday night was a different story as UMass lit up the goal sheet en route to a 6-3 win over the Huskies at Matthews Arena.
Minuteman coach John Micheletto saw a noticeable difference in his team from Friday to Saturday.
“It’s a funny game,” Micheletto said. “I think we did a couple of things, you know we generated a fair amount of greater opportunities … I thought we held the puck a split second too long (Friday) night. So we were giving Rawlings an opportunity to have to move laterally, but then get his feet set. … We weren’t allowing him to get set (Saturday) and it was creating some second and third shot opportunities.”
Senior co-captain Rocco Carzo reiterated his coach’s view on increased second chances.
“We obviously got more shots,” he said, “but I feel like we got more secondary shots. We got shots and then we crashed the net. (Friday) night we were able to get shots on net but they were right at his chest or they would be right in his glove. So I just felt like we crashed the net harder and we put the rebounds home.”
Carzo was one of three Minutemen (5-6-2, 4-6-1 Hockey East Association) who led a balanced offensive attack Saturday night, along with freshman forward K.J. Tiefenwerth and junior forward Branden Gracel. Carzo netted his second career multi-goal game and Tiefenwerth had three points, including his first collegiate goal. Gracel led the team in assists with three. In total, five UMass players had multi-point nights.
Carzo scored his first goal 15 minutes, seven seconds into the first period. It came directly off of a face off win by Steven Guzzo, who found Carzo in front of the net. Carzo beat Rawlings glove side on the play.
Tiefenwerth’s goal gave UMass a 2-1 lead with 19.3 seconds left in the first period as he beat Rawlings glove side on a wrist shot. Junior defenseman Joel Hanley and Gracel were credited with an assist.
“It’s just a relief,” Tiefenwerth said about what it felt like to score his first collegiate goal. “I mean you know it’s been a few games since I scored a goal so to have the first one off my back is definitely a relief. So I’m just happy that I got it out of the way and hopefully there are many more to come.”
Carzo’s second goal helped UMass regain a 3-2 lead at the 13:58 mark of the second period. He now leads the Minutemen with seven goals this season.
The Huskies (5-8-1, 3-7-1 HEA) did draw first blood when Kevin Roy scored a power play goal 6:06 into the first period.
Northeastern tied the game at 2-2 11:35 into the second period on Roy’s second goal of the game and team-high seventh of the season.
But junior forward Adam Phillips put the game away for good when he scored an insurance goal for the Minutemen at the 5:28 mark of the third period. The goal came after a questionable non-boarding call that had the Northeastern bench furious. The controversy led to a turnover and Phillips finished it from there with some nifty stick work. Kevin Czepiel was credited with an assist on the goal.
Hanley extended the UMass lead to 5-2 just 1:26 after Phillips’ goal.
Northeastern made it a two-goal game with 5:36 remaining in the game on a goal by Robbie Vrolyk. He made contact with Minutemen goalie Kevin Boyle, prompting a review for possible goalie interference, but the goal stood.
The Huskies’ had their fair share of opportunities to score during the course of the game, but UMass sophomore goalie Kevin Boyle prevented them from amounting to much with his 32 saves.
Boyle struggled last year playing back-to-back nights, but he showed Saturday that he is now up for the task.
“We needed him,” Micheletto said on his goalie’s performance. “There were nights that we’ve gotten a win or pitched a shutout and we hadn’t really needed him to make a lot of saves. I thought especially in the second period, there were stretches where he got tested and made some quality, very good saves, which was really big for us.”
His counterpart in net, Rawlings, finished with 40 saves.
Pereira added an empty net goal with 2:19 remaining.
In total, the Minutemen outshot Northeastern, 46-35.
UMass will return to the Mullins Center Friday night at 7 p.m.for a two-game home series with Colgate.
Minutemen shutout on Friday
UMass, while it scored six goals against Rawlings on Saturday, weren’t nearly as successful offensively the night before.
The Minutemen fired 31 shots but were stymied by the strong play of Rawlings, falling 1-0 to the Huskies in front of 4,121 fans at the Mullins Center on Friday night.
“Chris Rawlings was definitely a factor tonight,” Micheletto said. “The thing that we always talk about, whether we’re a man down when we give up a goal and you lose a game like this, you tip your cap, you move on and we’re really excited about playing tomorrow.”
While the playoffs are still four months away, the game had a playoff-type feel to it.
The first period was filled with up and down action, but it was UMass that created the majority of the scoring opportunities, capped by a close call 11 minutes in when Colin Shea’s shot was stopped by Rawlings. A rebound effort hopped over Rawlings’ back and trickled through the crease but was unable to be put home by the Minutemen.
Despite the game being scoreless heading into the first intermission, UMass owned a 14-4 shot advantage.
The Minutemen picked up where it left off to start the second period, but the results stayed the same, as they could not manage to solve Rawlings for the second straight period.
Late in the second period, UMass found itself on a power play, but did not see sophomore Adam Reid change late and he was sprung free on a breakaway and beat Boyle to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead with 2:47 remaining in the second period.
Even though the Minutemen trailed by one heading into the second break, they still owned a commanding 21-10 shot advantage, but with nothing to show for.
“We all know that’s the margin for error in our league,” Micheletto said. “Like it or not like it, that’s the reality of Hockey East play right now.”
Despite being shutout for the first 40 minutes, the Minutemen continued to press forward. They generated even more scoring opportunities, but their best opportunity to tie the game up came with just over six minutes remaining in the game when Power was kneed behind the Huskies goal, giving UMass an important five-minute power play.
Only a minute into the power play, junior Conor Sheary seemed to tie the game up at 1-1 when he ripped a slapshot from the top of the circle, beating Rawlings over his right shoulder and rattling the crossbar. The red light behind the goal went on, but after an official review, it was determined that the puck never crossed the line.
“I heard it hit the crossbar over my right shoulder,” Rawlings said. “I knew it didn’t go in because it ended up on the side of the net and there was no way if it went in it would end up there.”
The Minutemen continued to throw everything they could at the net, but were continuously shut down by Rawlings. Northeastern killed off the remaining time on the penalty and managed to cling to the 1-0 victory.
The game and two points were not the only two things that UMass lost Friday night, as it also lost two key players due to injuries.
Defenseman Darren Rowe left the game with an upper body injury and was wearing a sling following the game. The Minutemen also lost Power, who exited the game following the kneeing penalty late in the third period. Both players play integral parts for UMass, fulfilling rolls on both special teams units.
“The reality is that we were two power play guys down,” Micheletto said. “Darren went down. That forces us to shift personnel and shift schemes just based on the personnel that was available.”
Cameron McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @MDC_McDonough. Patrick Strohecker can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @MDC_Strohecker.