Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Exhaustion, complacency lead to third period collapse for UMass

Nicole Evangelista/Collegian

When a team loses arguably its most versatile defenseman one minute, 35 seconds into a game against the defending national champions, there’s no telling what kind of impact it will have on the outcome of the game.

After junior defenseman Joel Hanley, who is on the top defensive pairing with fellow junior Conor Allen and a fixture on special teams, was sent off for a game misconduct for hitting from behind Friday at the Mullins Center, the Massachusetts hockey team found itself in that exact position against No. 3 Boston College.

Playing with only five defensemen appeared to be no problem for UMass in the first two periods after killing the five-minute major by blocking numerous Eagles shot attempts, heading into second intermission with a 3-0 lead.

But in the third period, it appeared playing a man down finally caught up to the Minutemen, who surrendered 16 shots and four goals to BC and a 3-0 third period lead suddenly turned into a 5-4 defeat in overtime at the hands of the Eagles.

“Obviously being a man down, somebody who’s gonna play in special teams situations is certainly an adversity that you’ve got to overcome,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “I thought we handled it well for a while and I don’t know how much of a factor that was coming down the stretch as much as our abilities to make plays was.”

The turning point appeared to come in the final minutes of the second period when BC (1-1, 1-1 Hockey East Association) started to pick up the pace offensively, ending with 13 shots on the period and forcing sophomore goaltender Steve Mastalerz to make an array of difficult glove saves in his season debut.

“We started to play BC hockey,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “We were more thorough; we were skating better and just playing with more of a purpose.”

That exhaustion finally kicked in early in the third period when Bill Arnold got BC on the board 1:11 into the period. The Minutemen (1-1, 0-1 HEA) spent a large majority of the period skating backwards in their own end.

“I think after they scored the first (goal) we started to panic a bit,” senior co-captain Rocco Carzo said. “And as we panic we start to run around, start to worry a bit and that’s when it just keeps on coming. So obviously we’ve got to keep calm in that time.”

While the challenge of playing with only five defensemen became apparent as fatigue kicked in for UMass down the stretch, the players see it as no excuse for such a major third period collapse.

“Joel’s a great player obviously, but we’ve got five other guys that can play,” Mastalerz said. “They’re all here for a reason, we all made it here off playing good wherever we came from so we’re all in this league for a reason.”

Carzo, however, believes the team simply got too relaxed with a 3-0 lead heading into the third period.

“I think we might’ve gotten too comfortable out there,” he said. “Obviously we had a three-goal lead and that was unacceptable. I don’t know what to say past that. There’s no excuses for that.”

After scoring his second goal of the night at the 13:20 mark of the second period to put the Minutemen up 3-0, Carzo believed he had put the “nail in the coffin.” However, two goals in the first nine minutes of the third period for the Eagles changed that.

UMass did score in the third period when Darren Rowe beat BC goalie Parker Milner just over a minute after the Eagles had cut the deficit to one. But yet again, the Minutemen thought it was over from there.

“Lots of guys said, ‘You know what, now we have it in the bag,’ and at that point we have to keep on going, keep on pressing at them,” Carzo said.

Heading into the third period, Micheletto told the members of his team to keep on pushing the tempo and keep on trying to score, according to Carzo. But they simply couldn’t make it happen.

“I don’t think it’s a practice thing, I think it’s more of a mental thing,” Carzo said. “I think we have to have confidence in ourselves. That happened way too many times last year and it got to a point where we were sort of knew it was coming, like we were expecting it.”

And while Carzo expects a cure to come for these mental struggles, he acknowledged that it has to come quickly with a challenging schedule ahead.

While there was no shortage of disappointment in the way Friday’s game ended, Micheletto believes there is plenty his team can take from this kind of experience.

“In the early stages of where we are it’s an important lesson for our guys moving forward,” he said. “The way that we’re gonna play is more like you saw in the first 40 than the last 20.”

Injury report

Junior forward Michael Pereira went down with what has been called a leg injury during the overtime period and had to be helped off the ice by the training staff. Pereira was brought straight to the locker room from there.

While Micheletto didn’t have any confirmation from the training staff at the time, he said he believes Pereira’s injury is nothing serious and he should be fine. His status for this weekend’s home-and-home against Boston University has not been confirmed.

Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.


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