With playoff implications looming over each of the handful of games left to play, the Massachusetts hockey team was 38 seconds away from what could have been a disastrous weekend of hosting Boston University and Providence College.
However, senior forward Chase Langeraap buried a game-tying goal following a timeout with the Minutemen trailing 3-2 in the final minute of Saturday night’s showdown with the Friars.
After a gut wrenching 4-3 overtime loss to BU on Friday night, the Minutemen quickly regrouped to salvage a 3-3 overtime tie to Providence, a team breathing down their neck in the Hockey East standings.
By scratching out a point UMass was able to keep things steady in the Hockey East standings as it continues to fight for spot in the conference tournament.
“The point was a huge point for us,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “It’s not what we wanted but it’s a huge point because everything at least stays the way it was. And now we’re down to six games with the spread.”
The Minutemen remain seated in seventh place in one of the toughest conferences in college hockey, keeping a three-point distance from the Friars, who, in ninth place, are trying to crack the top eight. Between UMass, Vermont and Providence, only two teams can make the playoffs.
With 1 minute 35 seconds left in Saturday’s game, Cahoon called the lone timeout UMass had, as the Minutemen strategized their final attack. He removed goalie and senior captain Paul Dainton from the game in order to create a 6-on-5 advantage at the Providence end of the rink.
Freshman Michael Pereira carried the puck through defenders just behind the right side of the net. He then made a backhanded pass to the awaiting dog pile in front of the Providence net where Langeraap pushed it through.
“Call it some puck luck if you want, but the 6-on-5 worked out for us,” Cahoon said. “It was a great play by [Michael] Pereira to be able to handle that pass-shot off the side of the net. He handled the play from the point. That was the key. A lot of guys wouldn’t have stayed over the puck. Then off his backhand, he knew he had Langeraap at the goalmouth. [Langeraap] did a good job of burying the puck.”
“The puck luck there is that there were a couple of little turnovers in the zone when we had the goalie out of the net,” said Cahoon. “Sometimes those end up in your net. That was the puck luck that they didn’t bury one of those and we actually had three chances at making that 6-on-5 work. That was a huge goal.”
Langeraap’s eighth goal of the season leveled a game that saw UMass take a 2-0 lead early in the second period, courtesy of Michael Marcou and Joel Hanley. However, Providence stormed back by scoring three of its own within a five minute span midway through the second to capture a 3-2 lead.
Still, there was more relief in the locker room rather than jubilation after at least coming out with a tie.
“You want these [players] to be enthusiastic and have a level of energy,” said Cahoon. “We weren’t in there [in the locker room] giving ourselves a big ovation. But we made it very clear that that point was huge to get and the way they got it was worth appreciating and respecting the process. We stayed with it.”
The same could not be felt a night earlier when UMass held a 3-2 lead over BU but couldn’t hold on for any points.
Friday’s scoring started just a minute into the game when the Terriers took a quick 1-0 lead. The Minutemen continued the fast start by tallying a score of their own just over 10 seconds later.
UMass came out flying in the second period, erasing a 2-1 deficit by scoring twice in the first four minutes. Conor Sheary and Danny Hobbs were credited with each goal. Six different Minutemen got assists on their three goals.
After BU came back to knot everything at three midway through the second period, the game remained tied until Garrett Noonan scored just one minute and 44 seconds into overtime on a 3-on-1 advantage for BU to seal the game.
After two more overtime matchups this weekend, the Minutemen are now 0-1-5 in such games this year.
Pete Vasquez can be reached at [email protected]