The Massachusetts hockey team put an end to its three-game losing streak Friday night when it tied Harvard in overtime, 4-4, at the Mullins Center.
Although the Minutemen never trailed in the contest, each of their goals were answered by Harvard (3-3-3, 2-3-2 ECAC), including the game’s final goal scored by the Crimson’s Tommy O’Regan 12 minutes, four seconds into the third perod.
UMass coach Don Cahoon was pleased with his players’ resilience as they continually responded to Harvard’s game-tying goals.
“I thought the effort was [good],” said Cahoon. “I thought we were mentally tough and that we were resilient and that we responded to their goals on a consistent basis.”
However, the Minutemen took too many penalties, allowing Harvard six power play opportunities, two of which it converted for goals. Fortunately for UMass, the Crimson did not convert on their final power play which took place in the overtime period when UMass forward Conor Sheary was called for roughing nine seconds into the frame.
“The piece of the game that got away from us would be the [lack of discipline]. Even in overtime we had to kill a penalty, which was a tremendous kill in that situation.”
The tie preserved UMass’ undefeated record at home, which now stands at 4-0-3. Overall, the Minutemen now stand at 4-7-4 overall. The nonconference game did not affect their conference record, which remains at 2-6-3, good for second-to-last in the Hockey East.
Sheary put his team up 1-0 just 1:39 into the contest when he scored his fifth goal of the season off a feed from senior center T.J. Syner.
From then on, Harvard would respond to each of UMass’ go-ahead goals. UMass freshman goaltender Kevin Boyle finished with 40 saves while Harvard’s freshman goaltender Steve Michalek finished with 31.
In total, the Minutemen registered 35 shots, far more than they had in any of their previous three games. The four goals were also more than the three they totaled over their last three games.
Prior to Friday’s game, Cahoon attributed his team’s offensive futility to sloppy play in its defensive zone. That wasn’t the case on Friday, as the Minutemen found an improved flow and cohesiveness out of their own zone.
“I thought we began to show that we’re coming out of the zone a little cleaner,” said Cahoon. “That’s the whole key towards getting some shots and scoring goals because then you can move the puck through the middle of the rink and sustain a forecheck.”
While he would’ve preferred a win, Sheary was also pleased with UMass’ improved performance.
“I think we started off the game really well which is good since we haven’t been doing that lately,” said Sheary, who has 16 points in 15 games. “After that we played hard but the goals we gave up [came off] a couple bad penalties. We came right back on all the goals which is nice to see but giving up those goals – we just have to tighten up a little bit.”
UMass will return to the Mullins on Wednesday to play Yale in the second game of a two-game home set. After Yale, the Minutemen will travel to Florida for the Florida Everblades College Classic, which starts Dec. 29.
“[A win] against Yale would be absolutely huge for us going into break [to] get us some confidence,” said Sheary. “We don’t want to lose before break and wait 20 days before we get our next shot. Even though [Yale’s] not [in our] conference we’re going to play just like we regularly would.”
Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Levine.