The Massachusetts hockey team will attempt to maintain its unbeaten streak at home tonight when it faces its second consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference foe in Yale.
The Minutemen haven’t lost at the Mullins Center in seven games, dating back to their home opener against Bentley on Oct. 14, where they won, 5-3. With a 4-7-4 overall record this season, each of its four wins have come on home ice.
UMass has also tallied three ties at home this season. While that typically can be equated to a loss in the court of public opinion, the points the Minutemen have gained in each of those three draws could easily prove essential later on this season, when the playoff picture begins to take shape.
Until then, it’s too early to think about postseason play, but it’s comforting to UMass fans that the team has played with an enthusiasm and rigor that has enabled it to capitalize on its opportunities thus far.
The Minutemen enter their second-straight home game coming off a 4-4 overtime tie with ECAC member, Harvard, last weekend. The nonconference game did not affect their conference record, which remains at 2-6-3, good for second-to-last in Hockey East.
UMass got on the board early and often in the contest, trading goals with the Crimson until the final whistle blew in overtime. Conor Sheary put UMass up, 1-0, just over a minute-and-a-half 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 responded to each of UMass’ go-ahead goals. Freshman goaltender Kevin Boyle finished with 40 saves while Harvard’s freshman counterpart, Steve Michalek, finished with 31, most coming in acrobatic fashion.
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.
In its last game, Yale was unable to mount a comeback last weekend against Brown, falling, 6-4, on the road.
Junior goaltender Jeff Malcolm made 37 saves in the losing effort, but managed to keep his team in the game throughout the course of the night. The Bulldogs (6-4-1, 4-2-0 ECAC) came back from down, 2-0 and 4-2 on the night but couldn’t muster a third equalizer, despite all Malcolm’s efforts to keep the game close.
The Bears (4-6-1, 3-3-0 Ivy) peppered Malcolm with shots in the first period, registering 19 from virtually every angle, but the squad wasn’t able to secure a goal until the last few minutes of the period. Joey de Concilys one-timed a cross from Ryan Jacobson for the first goal of the game and a 1-0 lead for Brown. One-minute, 20 seconds later, Bobby Farnham added the Bears’ second score, netting one of his two goals on a shorthanded attempt.
Meanwhile, in between the Bears’ scoring plays, Brown goalie, Mike Clemente, made 27 saves on the other end of the ice to keep his team in the lead.
Tonight’s matchup will be the latest in a historic series, which dates back to 1911. One of UMass’ oldest opponents, Yale has gotten the best of UMass in the all-time series, going 12-6-0.
This will represent the first time Yale and UMass have faced each other since the 2009-2010 season however, when the Minutemen came out on top, 4-3, in overtime.
It will also be the final game of the semester and UMass’ last contest until Dec. 29. The 22-day break is the longest of the season for the Minutemen, who will travel to Estero, Fla., for two days to face Cornell and Clarkson or Maine upon returning from their winter recess.
Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Wood.