UMass drops second loss of the season

By Herb Scribner

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While the Massachusetts men’s club hockey team was able to show Central Connecticut State how to play hockey, Western Connecticut State handed the Minutemen their second loss of the season.

“When you put the hottest players out on the ice all the time, it’s bound to dry up,” UMass coach Robert Talloni commented on the team’s second loss.

The Minutemen’s (13-1-0) second loss of the season came at the hands of Western Connecticut, when they played Sunday night in Danbury, Conn. The Colonials (7-6-0) limited UMass’ powerful offense to score a single goal.

For a Minutemen offense that scored 71 goals prior to the contest against Western Connecticut, this was uncharacteristic. The recent dominant offense for the Minutemen failed to show up, as the lone goal was scored by defender Dan Cusano. The goal came off of an assist from forward Adam Spunt, who has played limited time in four games this season.

A bit of controversy also sprung up from the game against the Colonials, involving the officials. According to Talloni, there was a lack of communication between the referees, the captains and himself.

“Things developed during the game and needs to be addressed by the Referees Association,” Talloni said. “We had some trouble with the referring crew that needs to be addressed on paper.”

While Talloni explained that he sent a list of issues to the head of the Referees Association, he could not comment on what the issues were until he heard back.

Despite the issues, Talloni does not blame Western Connecticut.

“Western Connecticut did a great job; my hat is off to them,” he said. “They did what they had to do.”

Two nights before UMass suffered its second loss of the season (first away loss), the Minutemen played at home against Central Connecticut State.

While a closely-contested game may have been expected after the last meeting between the two teams (ending 8-6), UMass took it to another level as they handed the Blue Devils (5-5-0) an 8-3 loss.

“Going in, I knew it was going to be a very tough game, and it was. But we got on them quick,” Talloni said. “We had a couple of key players. Every line produced, and everything went well.”

Forward Craig Cardone came through, scoring four goals in the match. Cradone has seven goals on the season, which is the third most on the team behind seniors Reed Powers and Alec Goolsby.

“Every time [Cardone] touches the puck, everything seems to be working for him,” Talloni said. “He plays the way other players dream about. He had some beautiful moves, including two breakaways at the goalie.

“After his first three goals, people were looking for hats to throw out on the ice because he scored a hat-trick, but to our surprise, he scored one more. It was a fantastic effort on his part,” he said.

Talloni also explained that Cardone’s impressive scoring was assisted by the defensive players, who passed the puck up to him for his goals.

Both Goolsby and Powers were major factors in the offense. Goolsby, who leads the team as its captain, scored two goals in the match against Central Connecticut, along with two assists. Powers (assistant captain) had one goal and an assist.

Goalie Mark Leonard continued to stop shots for the Minutemen and despite allowing three goals, stopped 38 while boosting his save percentage to 94 percent.

“We try to do our best when the lines give the go-ahead,” Talloni said.

UMass looks forward toward this weekend, which features back-to-back matches. The first will be away at Bryant, which is the first meeting of the two teams this season. The following night, the Minutemen host Maine at home.

The Black Bears (6-5-0) are not a Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) team, and the Bulldogs (3-6-0), while a NECHA team, are not in the same division as UMass. With that, neither of the contests will affect conference standings significantly..

“Both of these should be great games,” Talloni said.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected].