Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Friars pay homage to \ Helanen, Minutemen \

PROVIDENCE, RI – Maybe a neck massage or a brace would help to ease the pain felt by Markus Helanen. But instead of using one of the various health remedies, the Massachusetts goalkeeper employed a 3-1 victory over the ninth ranked Providence Friars to placate the pressure felt from standing on his head for sixty minutes.

“Helanen was brilliant,” said Head Coach Don Cahoon after Friday night’s victory at Schneider Arena.

After a series of shaky starts that aided in an eight game winless streak for the Minutemen, Helanen donned cape and mask and returned to his former brilliance.

“Markus was his old self and that makes a big difference,” said Cahoon of his goalie’s outstanding performance between the pipes.

Helanen made 36 saves on the night, including a number of highlight reel stops that had the PC forwards talking to themselves as they skated back to the bench.

Helanen controlled the contest, forcing the Friars to play by his rules. The only goal he allowed was completely out of his control after he was knocked over by his own man and PC’s Jon DiSalavatore shelved a third-time chance.

Following the initial Providence goal though, Helanen kept the game and its action on a tight leash.

The Finland native was especially stellar in the second period, when the Friars rained down 18 shots, but the best of the netminder’s key saves and game saving heroics came in the final frame of action.

Going into the third period, the Minutemen were clinging to a one-goal lead while the Friars had over a minute left in a power play that carried over from the previous period. The crowd was fired up as PC had shown signs of a comeback leading into the third. Helanen however, quieted the Providence faithful by challenging the opposing shooters from the top of his crease and guiding all rebounds to the corners.

“I challenged them a little bit more, I came out a little farther,” said the Maroon and White’s goalkeeper after the game.

After muffling the home team’s power play, he made two game saving saves. The first came before the midway point of the period when the goalie made a series of point blank stops and a rebound squirted to a PC forward who was staring at a yawning net. Helanen reacted quickly by lunging to his left with the massive catching glove, snaring the shot and saving the game.

“I don’t know who got the shot, but he didn’t get all of it. It was just one of those where you get lucky,” said Helanen, forgetting to mention that he is good as well as lucky.

Every fan in attendance thought the Friars had tied up the game, as the crowd erupted and even the music signaling a goal started playing. Unfortunately for the home fans in attendance, they were unaware that to Helanen, the outcome of this game was a foregone conclusion.

No matter how many chances the Friars would get, no more pucks would cross the goal line.

Helanen was called upon again with less than nine minutes to go in the period. As UMass attempted to clear the zone, the puck deflected off a PC player and right to a streaking Adam Lee who deked left before firing a shot towards the top right corner. Helanen anticipated the play and stacked the pads, as the puck fell harmlessly to the ice.

Helanen earned himself the first star of the game, but the importance of his play goes much deeper than that. The Fin seemingly got the UMass penalty kill back on track by shutting down PC six times with the man advantage.

Providence ripped off 37 shots to a miniscule 18 for the Minutemen. Unfortunately for the Friars, there were few holes between the bricks and mortar of the maroon and white wall in net.

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