Minutemen top PC 4-1 after falling to BU 6-2

By Jeffrey R. Larnard

hockBPROVIDENCE, R.I. – After Friday night ended with Paul Dainton breaking his stick in anger when Boston University got to him six times, it was Dan Meyers who got the start Saturday night against Providence, leading to his best game of the season.

Meyers, who had been averaging 4.42 goals against per game this season, held the Friars (9-15-1, 4-13-1 Hockey East) to just one goal as the Massachusetts hockey team bounced back with a 4-1 victory Saturday night after falling to BU, 6-2, the previous night.

UMass coach Don Cahoon said the decision to start Meyers had nothing to do with Dainton’s performance on Friday night, but that it was predetermined coming into the weekend to give Dainton the night off.

“We just thought, number one, it would be good for Paul to sit back for a game,” Cahoon said. “Number two, it was really good to get Danny into the mix because before this is over he could figure in a big way, whether it be in a series or a game down the stretch, and he certainly proved tonight he wanted a piece of it.”

Just 16 seconds into the third period, with the No. 15 Minutemen up 2-0, Meyers made his only mistake of the night. Providence’s Ian O’Connor took a pass from Tim Schaller and beat the senior for the Friar’s lone goal of the night.

“I’d love to have that one back,” Meyers said. “I didn’t really get a sense of ‘uh-oh’ [after the goal], I trusted the guys out in front of me and I felt good all night, so I didn’t think it would be a big problem.”

But UMass responded just over a minute later when Marc Concannon found Rocco Carzo for his sixth goal of the season.

At the six minute, 17 second mark of the final period, freshman Eddie Olcyzk would notch his first career goal at UMass off a Darren Rowe assist.

“I was happy with the overall competitiveness coming off a game last night where I felt we competed last night and didn’t get much out of it. I thought the competitiveness was real good tonight so it gave us a chance to execute at some of the things we did pretty well,” Cahoon said.

In the second period, the Minutemen capitalized on the conference’s second-best penalty-kill unit (84.8 percent) as they scored two power-play goals in the first 10 minutes of the period.

At the 3:11 mark of the period, Michael Marcou netted his sixth goal of the season after the Friars were penalized for having too many men on the ice. After T.J. Syner found Darren Rowe, Rowe slipped the puck past the net and found M. Marcou’s stick, beating Providence’s Alex Beaudry for the 1-0 lead.

Just under five minutes later – after the Friars’ Daniel New was called for slashing – James Marcou tied the UMass single season record for assists (32) when he found Casey Wellman, who fired a shot on net. Beaudry deflected the puck to his left where Will Ortiz found it and put it away for a 2-0 lead.

The Friars had their share of power-play opportunities in the period as well, including a full, two-minute 5-3 man advantage, but the Minutemen penalty kill, which ranks eighth in the Hockey East (80 percent), was a perfect 3-for-3 in the period, and 5-for-5 on the night.

UMass’ depth was also on display as each offensive line – with exception to the first line of J. Marcou, Wellman and T.J. Syner – produced a goal, something the team has lacked.

“Getting goals from the other lines is critical, in the last few weeks it has been either [J. Marcou, Wellman] and Syner have put up points or we really struggled,” Cahoon said. “Tonight we got points from other people, yet I told [J. Marcou, Wellman] and Syner I thought they had a terrific game.”

Goaltending was not a strong point for the Minutemen on Friday night, as Dainton was beat for the sixth time in the team’s 6-2 loss to Boston University at Agganis Arena, prompting Dainton to slam his stick against this ice. It was the second-worst game of the season for Dainton, the other coming back on Jan. 2 in a 7-3 loss at BU.

In that loss, Dainton was also hit for six goals, giving the Terriers’ (9-11-3, 7-9-2 Hockey East) 12 goals against No. 15 UMass’ netminder in the last two games between the schools.

The Terriers used a time of 2:54 in the second period to separate themselves from the Minutemen, as well as two late goals that led to Dainton’s frustration.

With 4:33 remaining in the second period and BU leading 1-0, Ross Gaudet beat Dainton for his second goal of the night, off an assist from Nick Bonino, to extend BU’s lead to two. Just over a minute later, the lead was extended once again when Max Nicastro found Colby Cohen to put the Terriers ahead 3-0.

That lead lasted for 36 seconds, but reached three again after another 1:06 of play.

With 2:45 remaining in the second period, senior Justin Braun took a shot from just inside the blue line only to have it saved, but with the rebound falling to the stick of Brian Keane, who cut the deficit back down to two.

But with 1:39 left in the period, Vinny Saponari netted a power-play goal for the third goal of the period for BU and put it up 4-1 heading into the third period. The goal finished off a 2:54 stretch where the two teams combined for four goals, three by the Terriers.

Martin Nolet netted the Minutemen’s second goal of the game midway through the third period while UMass was on a man advantage, but the Terriers scored their own power-play goal just over five minutes later. Just seconds before Braun was set to return to the ice following a holding penalty, Nicastro would beat notch the Terriers’ second power-play goal of the game. The Terriers finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play, while UMass was 1-for-4.

In the final minute of play, BU’s Luke Popko would score a shorthanded goal, prompting Dainton to get a new stick from the bench.

With a 1-1 record on the weekend, the Minutemen gained two points and remained in a second-place tie with Boston College who topped Providence, 5-2, Friday night. The Minutemen and the Eagles will square off next Friday in Amherst at 7:30 p.m., as the two teams fight for second place.

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at [email protected]