Puck bounces wrong way for UMass hockey

By Matt Brady (Collegian Staff)

In the incredibly close Hockey East race for postseason position, defending home ice is never more important, especially against teams toward the bottom of the conference.

On Jan. 23, the Massachusetts hockey team played host to basement dweller Lowell and it fell to the River Hawks 3-2.

Yorick Treille had a goal and an assist for the visitors, including the game winner at the 5:40 mark of the third period on a shot from the high slot which went through a screen and got by senior netminder Markus Helanen down low.

With the loss, the Minutemen dropped to 7-16-2 overall and 6-9-0 in Hockey East play.

“This was a very important game tonight,” Lowell coach Tim Whitehead said. “I think that the guys knew that, and as a result, played a little nervous tonight. I think it would have been more just if it had ended in a tie, but we’ll take it. These are two monstrous points.”

The Maroon and White are now even at 1-1 with Lowell this season, with an upcoming game at Tsongas Arena on Saturday. Earlier this year, they defeated the River Hawks there 5-4 in overtime.

“I’m very upset about tonight,” head coach Don Cahoon said. “I’m not cavalier about this in any way, shape or form. I don’t think that we deserved the fate that we got, and I thought that we were dealt a pretty [expletive] hand.”

Cahoon, as well as the UMass faithful were repeatedly upset by some calls, or lack thereof, by referee John Gravallese. Several times in the third period, UMass forwards were held up in the offensive zone, including a break-in by Mike Warner just before Treille’s game-winner, but Gravallese let the plays go.

“Every game is important, there’s no doubt about that,” Cahoon added. “Conceivably, we can finish in ninth place [in the league], but should we waste our time thinking about it now? No, because that would be a waste of energy. The only thing that we’re worried about is tomorrow’s practice and how we’re going to right this ship.”

The scoring started early, with Lowell getting on the board at the 5:45 mark of the first stanza. Laurent Meunier took a dump in from Ron Hainsey and threw a behind the back pass to Kidney, who was standing right at Helanen’s doorstep. Kidney flipped the puck up and somehow it found its way into the net to give Kidney his sixth goal of the season.

Just over three minutes later, at 8:50, with UMass blueliner Randy Drohan in the box for holding, the Hawks used good puck movement to set up a point shot for Hainsey, who was selected 13th overall in the NHL draft last year. His shot was tipped in front by Meunier, who took advantage of some sub-par physical play on the penalty kill.

“This was a huge game tonight,” UMass junior defenseman Toni Soderholm said. “It’s really disappointing to go down the way that we did. Lowell controlled the play in the first five minutes of the period. We spotted them two goals, and it’s tough to come back from that.”

The Minutemen got on the board at 11:46 of the first period. On the power play, the Maroon and White kept firing at the net. After S