Mass Attack drops two to Eagles over weekend

By Dan Gigliotti

The final spot in the Hockey East tournament remains uncertain after the Massachusetts hockey team dropped two games this weekend to Boston College.

A Minutemen rally attempt on Friday fell just short in a 4-3 loss to the Eagles (24-7-1, 18-6-1 HEA), in the first game of a home-and-home series at the Mullins Center.

On Saturday, the Minutemen (6-20-5, 5-15-5 HEA) lost 2-1 at the Conte Forum, their fourth consecutive loss by one point.

Despite the two losses, the Minutemen (15 points) remain in eighth place in the conference standings, two points ahead of ninth-place Providence (13) and one point behind seventh-place Vermont (16).

UMass is now winless in its last 10 games (0-6-2), despite playing with a renewed sense of urgency.

“They’re a great team and they put a lot of pressure on us at times,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said in an interview with UMass Sports radio announcer Brock Hines following Saturday’s game. “We stayed pretty composed and played with a lot of energy both nights and gave them, at least, the type of challenge that suggests we’re moving in the right direction.”

Junior T.J. Syner cut the Eagles’ lead to one with 2 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the second period off of assists from junior Danny Hobbs and redshirt freshman Anthony Raiola.

Syner, the Minutemen’s leading scorer (nine goals, 16 assists), extended his point streak to seven games with the goal (two goals, five assists). Raiola’s assist was the first of his career.

Barry Almeida scored a goal with 12:25 left in the first period to take a 1-0 BC lead. Pat Mullane’s power-play goal with 6:57 left proved to be the game-winner.

After going 1-for-2 with a man advantage in the first frame, the UMass penalty kill tightened up, stopping the next five power plays. Overall, the Eagles went 1-for-7 with an extra man on Saturday and 3-for-13 on the weekend.

Cahoon was more disappointed in the volume of penalties (16, 32 minutes) the Minutemen committed over the two-game series, rather than their short-handed play.

“The struggle with our team is the discipline with the stick infractions,” Cahoon said. “Too many little slashes and guys getting a little leggy and they don’t move their feet and stay with people, then you take a stick foul. That’s a real Achilles heel for us. We keep talking it and training it and, hopefully, we [will] outgrow it in a hurry.”

Two power-play goals led to a 2-0 deficit early in the second period for UMass on Friday night at the Mullins Center. Brian Gibbons scored first with 4:45 left in the first period following an Eric Filiou high-sticking penalty. Then, with 15:54 to go in the second period, freshman Joel Hanley went to the box for tripping and Almeida scored with five seconds left on the power play.

A goal by freshman Conor Allen 23 seconds later trimmed the deficit to 2-1 with 13:36 left in the second frame. BC answered back nearly as quickly with a Jimmy Hayes unassisted goal with 13:10 left.

Hanley scored his third goal of the season with two seconds remaining in the period on the power play. Danny Hobbs scored another man-up goal five minutes, nine seconds into the third period to move UMass within one point of the Eagles. Despite UMass’ efforts, BC salted away the Minutemen rally and stymied the home team’s chances for a point.

Dainton made 30 saves in Friday night’s game to break the all-time save record, previously held by Brian Regan (3,050). He now has 3,097 for his career.

“[Dainton’s] a veteran who is under composure and all those minutes and saves and things that he’s been able to do over the four years give him the confidence and the experience to be able to come out big in the big moment,” Cahoon said.

In addition, Dainton now holds the school-record for minutes played (6,806 minutes) breaking Gabe Winer’s record (6,725) on Friday.

UMass will play its final home games this weekend in its regular season-ending series against Maine.

Dan Gigliotti can be reached at [email protected]