Minutemen fall to Lowell, drop to eighth in standings

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Ryan Fung/Collegian

Massachusetts hockey coach Don Cahoon didn’t like what he saw from his team Saturday night against UMass-Lowell, but it was what he didn’t see that ultimately cost his Minutemen the game.

After a prolonged scrum in front of goaltender Paul Dainton and the UMass net, Lowell‘s Mark Roebothan ‘- who appeared to be the only player that realized the puck was still live ‘- broke the tie with what proved to be the game-winning goal in Lowell‘s 2-1 win over the Minutemen in front of 4,892 fans at the Mullins Center.

Cahoon, who saw his team drop to eighth place in the Hockey East standings with the loss, was upset with his team following the game.

‘Well, there’s not much to say ‘- we had a good first period ‘hellip; And then in the second period we were out-competed, out-chanced, out-shot, took some bad penalties and made the game difficult for ourselves,’ Cahoon said.

‘And then low and behold, we give up a goal in the first minute of a period again,’ he continued. ‘That in itself is bad, but we still had 19 minutes to play in a game, and the thing I question is the conviction of the guys on the bench.’

After 14 minutes of missed opportunities for both teams in the first period, the Minutemen (11-14-3, 6-10-3 HEA) broke through and took the lead when Shawn Saunders scored on a one-timer from Michael Lecomte past Lowell goaltender Nevin Hamilton (27 saves) in the 15th minute.

But for just the second time this season in 12 games when leading after the first period, the Minutemen couldn’t hold on for the victory.

Patrick Cey’s goal in the 13th minute of the second period tied the game for Lowell (13-13, 10-9 HEA), setting the stage for the game-winning goal that surprised nearly everyone.

‘Being vertically challenged, I usually see the back of my players’ helmets,’ Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald joked after the game, admitting he didn’t see what happened in front of the net on Roebothan’s goal. ‘What I did see was the referee Jeff Bunyon in terrific position right behind the net ‘- so I didn’t see the puck, but I saw a lot of activity so that means the puck is still alive.’

Dainton (32 saves) was unable to cover up the puck and the UMass defenseman on the ice ‘- John Wessbecker and Topher Bevis ‘- couldn’t clear it, as Roebothan snuck it past Dainton for the score.

‘I didn’t see it. [Bunyon] said the puck was free. I didn’t question that, I mean that’s his call, he’s there,’ Cahoon said. ‘I gotta believe that the puck was free and the kid put it in ‘- but it’s up to our two senior defensemen to clean house in that area. They are big, strong kids; they gotta be knocking people on their duffers in that situation.

‘If it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty. But they gotta be cleaning house; the guy doesn’t get to tap it home.’

In keeping with the game’s first 41 minutes, the Minutemen didn’t have a lot of good scoring opportunities in the final 19 minutes of the contest. UMass’ best chance may have came with 1 minute, 56 seconds remaining when James Marcou appeared to have a clear lane to the Lowell net when he was leveled in the open ice to kill the chance.

The Minutemen, who are now 3-7 in games decided by one goal, went 0-for-5 on the power play for the second consecutive night. They also went scoreless on five man-advantages in Friday’s 2-0 loss to Boston College in Chestnut Hill.

UMass didn’t get one shot off on either of its final two power plays (one in the second and third periods) and finished with five shots on the man-advantage. Lowell didn’t fare any better, going 0-for-6 a man up.

‘That was an important victory for us against a very, very good team,’ MacDonald said. ‘Any team that can put up six [goals] against [No. 3] Northeastern and beat [Boston University] when they were No. 1 in the country is a really good team.’

But since a 6-4 win over No. 3 Northeastern on Jan. 30, Cahoon has seen his offense fail to support Dainton, who has only allowed five goals in the past three games ‘- all losses.

‘Most of our problems in my mind, in terms of the number of games we’ve found a way to lose because we couldn’t generate offense, are a result of what’s going on between our ears,’ Cahoon said. ‘That’s what our biggest issue is right now.’

Game notes

Lowell took the season-series with the Minutemen two games to one. The road team won all three games. UMass lost for the first time this season when Dainton made 30 at least 30 saves. They were 4-0. ‘hellip; UMass was out-shot in every period. ‘hellip; It was the second career goal for Saunders, who has played in only five games this season. He last played on Nov. 28 against St. Lawrence. ‘hellip; Chase Langeraap was also credited with an assist on the goal by Saunders. ‘hellip; UMass fell to 10-5-1 when scoring the game’s first goal.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]