Black Bears hit Minutemen hard in home tie

By Michael Wood

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team had to contend with a physical Maine squad on Friday night, but after some early troubles and penalties, the Minutemen managed to battle back for the 2-2 tie.

The Black Bears looked like a team on a mission when they took the ice at the Mullins Center, making a point to finish every check in the early going and forcing UMass into bad penalties throughout the game.

Coming off four straight losses to Boston College, New Hampshire and the Riverhawks, Maine entered the game frustrated and looking to get back into the win column. UMass coach Don Cahoon said he knew the Black Bears would come into the game with an attitude and that his team knew it would have to play a physical brand of hockey all night in order to compete.

“As advertised, they came into the building with a distinct attitude,” said Cahoon. “I thought they really out-competed us for the first half of the game for sure. We were lucky that [goaltender Jeff] Teglia played pretty well and we didn’t give up more than a two-goal lead.”

With so much hitting, the story of the game was the number of penalty minutes that each team racked up over the course of the night. Through the first two periods, Maine’s physical tactics worked to its advantage, sending UMass to the penalty box seven times for a total of 25 minutes. That means that the Minutemen essentially played an entire period shorthanded and as a result, allowed two goals.

Playing such a physical game, Maine also accumulated its share of penalties. The Black Bears took five penalties for 10 minutes in the first period alone and the types of penalties called were indicative of the brand of hockey the game demanded. At the end of the night, both teams saw a combined total of four roughing calls, three cross-checking penalties, two hooking calls, two penalties for hitting after the whistle, two five-minute majors and two game misconducts.

After the game, Teglia said that no team enjoys having to face such a tough and physical opponent and that playing that type of hockey grinds on the physical and mental endurance of the team. However, he also said that it was evident as soon as the puck dropped that Maine was going to try to intimidate the Minutemen, but the team was prepared for that.

“At first we maybe weren’t as physical,” said Teglia. “You know exactly when you’re going to be in that type of game and I think our team did a good job of adapting to that.”

UMass’ biggest penalty of the night came in the second period when sophomore forward Eric Filiou checked a Maine player into the boards adjacent to the Minutemen’s bench. The player was down on the ice for several minutes after the hit and had to be helped back to his bench. The referees determined that Filiou’s hit was to the head of his opponent and gave him a five-minute major and also tacked on a game misconduct penalty as well. That forced the Minutemen into a five-minute penalty kill, which the team ultimately killed successfully.

Filiou finished the game as UMass’ most penalized player with five other players also seeing time in the box throughout the contest.

The Black Bears registered their own five-minute major and game misconduct penalty in the third period when Joey Diamond slammed a UMass player into the boards and was sent to the box for hitting from behind. The hit came on a Minutemen power play and gave UMass its best chance to net a game-winning goal, but the squad wasn’t able to capitalize on the play.

Diamond finished the game with 19 penalty minutes, far exceeding any other player in the game. This didn’t go unnoticed by UMass, as most players were aware of Diamond’s over-the-top play on the ice.

“Diamond took a couple of ridiculous penalties,” said Teglia. “I don’t know what he was thinking. We stayed calm and we didn’t take any retaliation penalties so I thought that was good.”

UMass has been penalized 72 times for 183 minutes this season. The former is well below the Minutemen’s opponents’ total (87). However, when UMass is sent to the box, it’s typically been for longer stretches of time and more severe penalties. Opponents have registered 185 minutes in the box. UMass has two game misconduct penalties on the year.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Wood.