One day after one of its most lopsided defeats of the season, the Massachusetts hockey team scored in the opening minute of Saturday’s game and never looked back.
The 4-1 road win against No. 11 Maine gave UMass its sixth victory over a ranked team this season.
Freshman goalie Kevin Boyle’s 21-save output stole the show for the Minutemen (11-14-5, 7-12-4 Hockey East), as he collected his team-high seventh win of the season while allowing only one shot to find the back of the net.
“[Boyle] was sharp and he made some big saves,” said coach Don Cahoon in an interview with UMass Athletics. “He got some good defense in front of him too.”
UMass wasted no time getting it going in this contest, as redshirt freshman Steven Guzzo poked in his eighth goal of the season, beating Black Bears (18-10-3, 13-9-2 HEA) netminder Dan Sullivan just 51 seconds in.
Sophomore forward Michael Pereira continued to show why he has been the most dependable goal-scorer for the Minutemen as of late by knocking home his team-high 17th goal of the season on a power play at the 12:25 mark of the second period.
It was Pereira’s fourth straight game with at least one goal, and his 12th point in the last nine.
Trailing 2-0 after the second period, Maine got itself right back into the game with a goal 30 seconds into the final frame by forward Joey Diamond. It was team-high 20th goal of the season.
Junior Rocco Carzo responded for UMass when he found the back of the net for the second time this season off a feed from Michael Marcou 11:44 into the third period. Marcou’s assist was one of two on the night for the senior defenseman.
Eric Filiou was able to bury the Black Bears in the closing minute of the game with an empty-netter to put the game well out of reach.
Cahoon was pleased with his team’s effort, especially in comparison to the previous contest the day before.
“To their credit they showed up and played with tremendous enthusiasm, passion and a conviction,” he said. “Good things happen when you do that.”
Black Bears dominate UMass
Just one day before Boyle’s win on Saturday, UMass goalie Steve Mastalerz had a night he’d like to forget.
The freshman allowed five goals and stopped only 12 shots as Maine cruised to a 7-3 victory. Mastalerz’ night came to a premature end 13:10 into the second period after Matt Mangene put a shot past him.
The Minutemen found themselves in a 6-0 hole after the second period, with all three of the goals scored in the final frame.
“We’re fighting for our lives, yet in the first two periods there were so many situations where we didn’t play hard enough or determined enough,” said Cahoon. “We have to question what the belief system in that room is right now.”
Kevin Czepiel and Patrick Kiley scored goals for UMass, but the most significant tally of the night came from Pereira, whose hot-streak continued after scoring for the third consecutive game.
Maine got a particularly strong performance from Diamond, who netted a back-breaker 18:21 into the second on a breakaway opportunity. The goal gave Diamond his third point of the night as he also registered a pair of assists.
Boyle was able to weather the storm in relief of Mastalerz and allowed only two goals, with just one coming in the final period.
“We’ve got to get a much more solid effort out of our guys in terms of puck balance, compete level and just getting them to believe that if they play at the level they’re capable of playing than they can have success,” said Cahoon.
The Minutemen will be back at the Mullins Center Friday night at 7 p.m. for the first of two games against New Hampshire this weekend.
Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Canelas.