With young, resilient players, the Massachusetts hockey team succeeded in kicking its season off in exciting fashion.
After losing to No. 15 Minnesota to end non-conference play, The Minutemen (0-2-1, 0-0-1 Hockey East) traveled to Boston to face Boston University for the conference schedule opener.
The game, which featured various momentum swings, ended in a 2-2 tie with BU (2-0-1, 0-0-1 HEA) edging UMass in shots, 35-33.
With Paul Dainton injured, freshman goaltender Jeff Teglia made his first collegiate start for UMass, ultimately receiving honors for his efforts late in the game.
Four minutes into the contest, Teglia let up the first goal to BU’s Matt Nieto. Chris Connolly added to the Terriers’ lead with a goal in the 10th minute. The period was reminiscent of UMass’ poor play in the early stages of games this year, as the Minutemen were outshot, 11-7, and again faced an early deficit in the first.
“We fell behind by two,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “It was [great] that we were able to climb back into it and get the point.”
Teglia kept the Terriers at bay in the second, stopping all 10 shots he faced. BU’s Kieran Millan followed suit by stopping all 16 shots through the first two periods.
UMass came out firing in the third, when the line of Michael Pereira, Rocco Carzo and T.J. Syner created an early chance that gave the Minutemen the momentum for the remainder of the stanza.
Moments later, Darren Rowe put UMass on the board with a goal assisted by Syner and Carzo.
“There were a lot of momentum swings,” Cahoon said. “[There was] pretty good goaltending at both ends. These were two teams that desperately wanted the two points.”
With less than nine minutes remaining in regulation, UMass senior Marc Concannon leveled the score at 2-2.
“He’s a competitive kid,” Cahoon said, referring to Concannon. “He works really hard and he competes every [shift]. It’s nice to see him chip in with a goal. Most of the time he’s blocking a shot or finishing a check.”
Concannon’s goal was the last in regulation, sending the game into overtime.
The Minutemen mustered two shots in overtime, which Millan turned aside. The most important player again was Teglia, who made his presence known by stopping all six Terrier shots en route to a conference-opening draw.
“He’s a battler,” Cahoon said of Teglia. “He’s not your conventional [goalie] but he finds a way to compete and stop pucks.”
Cahoon believed the experience Teglia received in Minnesota, when he came in for the injured Dainton staring down a five-on-three penalty kill, prepared him well for his first collegiate start.
“[Teglia’s] exciting. He gets after it,” Cahoon said. “He’s anticipating plays and he’s putting himself into position to try and make a difference in the game.”
Teglia made a big difference. After relinquishing the two early goals, he was rock solid in net for the Minutemen, stopping all 24 shots he faced after the first period. His performance, coupled with the looming return of Dainton, gives Cahoon and the Minutemen supreme confidence in their netminders.
Cahoon is also pleased with the performances of his young players so far, citing their consistent hard work and resilience as the Minutemen’s key successes early on.
Cahoon’s main concern right now is his team’s inability to establish an early lead, something he would like to see change when BU visits UMass on Oct. 22.
“We have yet to play with a lead. It would be nice for them to get a lead and see what they can do with it.”
Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]