PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Usually when a team outshoots its opponent 44-22, it expects to win, but that was not the case for the Massachusetts hockey team Saturday night.
Instead, the Minutemen (7-11-2, 4-8-1 Hockey East Association) suffered a 2-0 setback to Providence College in front of 1,800 fans at Schneider Arena.
Saturday’s game was a stark difference from Friday’s game when the shots were going in for both teams, a game PC won, 5-4.
UMass had many chances throughout Saturday’s game, but Friars (9-8-3, 7-4-2 HEA) freshman goalie Jon Gillies made 44 saves and kept the Minutemen off of the scoreboard the entire game.
Gillies faced 10 shots in the first period, 21 in the second and 13 in the third and saved them all.
Despite the loss, UMass coach John Micheletto was happy with how his team played overall and credited Gillies with a great performance.
“The guys did a great job,” he said. “I don’t know if we could’ve played a better game. We were facing a guy who obviously played a very special game. The only thing that we can control is our effort and execution and that was pretty darn good tonight. So as I tell our guys, we don’t like to lose, but (when) you leave it all out there and you don’t come up with a win, you tip your cap and move on.”
On the other end of the ice, Steve Mastalerz got the start in goal for the Minutemen and made 22 saves.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Micheletto said of his performance in net despite not facing the constant action Gillies was facing.
It was Mastalerz’ first start since Oct. 26, 2012 against Boston University; a 5-2 loss and his first game action since Nov. 18, 2012 when he came in for Jeff Teglia during an 8-2 loss to UMass Lowell.
Despite being outshot 21-4 in the second period, PC scored its first of two goals 18 minutes, 13 seconds into the frame. The Friars created the opportunity when it sent the puck into the offensive zone. Derek Army then beat UMass defenseman Conor Allen to the dumped in puck after he changed direction on him. Army delivered the puck to Ross Mauermann in front of the net and he finished from there for his seventh goal of the season. Brandon Tanev was also credited with an assist on the goal.
After conceding the goal, the Minutemen needed a minute to “catch their breath.”
“There’s always a moment when you take a body blow,” Micheletto said. “There’s always a moment where you have to try and catch your breath. I think we saw the shift after we got a little bit scrambled. … We almost collectively took a breath and made an outlet pass and got ourselves out and got right back to doing what we do.”
Unfortunately for UMass, it was unable to prevent the Friars from adding an insurance goal at the 9:58 mark in the third period. Tim Schaller scored the goal when he knocked home a rebound, making it 2-0 PC. Myles Harvey had the original shot for the Friars. Tom Parisi was also credited with an assist.
In the end the 2-0 loss wasn’t the result Micheletto was looking for, but he was pleased with his teams’ effort.
“I think they believe in what we are doing,” he said. “Some nights we are going to score four or five and some nights we’re not. That’s the sport. You don’t always get the reward you deserve.”
The Minutemen will get another opportunity to get that reward Friday night when it travels to Boston College. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.
Cameron McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.