Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto hoped that his team learned a valuable lesson after blowing a 3-0 third period lead to Boston College in a 5-4 defeat Oct. 19.
It appears his team is still learning.
This time around, UMass saw a 2-0 lead one minute, six seconds into the second period evaporate in a 10 minute span as No. 13 Boston University came away with a 3-2 victory in front of 7,357 at the Mullins Center Saturday night to complete the weekend sweep of the Minutemen.
“It’s all mental at this point. We’re all skilled, we’re all in shape, but it’s just the mental part at this point,” said senior co-captain Rocco Carzo, who gave UMass the 2-0 lead on his third goal of the season off a penalty shot.
It doesn’t get any easier from here for the Minutemen (1-3, 0-3 Hockey East), who now have the challenge of going up undefeated, 11th-ranked New Hampshire Friday at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo provided the game winner for the Terriers (3-1, 3-1 HEA) 18 minute, 38 seconds into a third period in which UMass outshot BU 20-9, but simply couldn’t solve freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor (34 saves) in those final 20 minutes.
While the Minutemen didn’t end up with the result they were hoping for, Micheletto was happy with the way his team controlled the pace of the game in the third period.
“There’s a lot of positives for us to build on,” he said. “The thing that breaks my heart for the guys is that they’re not getting the reward that they should.
“When they play well, we’re a very good team. When we’re seeing plays and we’re making plays and having the mental discipline we’re a very good team. But we have a very small margin for error.”
Sophomore goalie Kevin Boyle was strong in net, making 32 saves on 35 shots. And unlike his first outing in the season-opener against Connecticut Oct. 12, Boyle was forced to make some difficult saves against a much stronger BU attack and Micheletto said he was excited to see his goaltender put on a strong performance.
Trailing 2-0 early in the second period, the Terriers became the aggressors, outshooting UMass 17-7 in the frame and was rewarded at the 4:52 mark when senior captain Wade Megan scored his second goal in as many days to cut the lead in half.
BU scored the equalizer at the 14:46 mark on a power play goal by Matt Nieto.
Carzo believes that just like in the loss to the Eagles, the Minutemen got a little too relaxed with a multi-goal lead.
“Obviously after we scored two goals guys started to pull up a bit, all of us saw it,” he said. “That’s when (BU) took it to us.”
UMass scored the initial goal of the night on a power play goal by Shane Walsh 16:49 into the first period. It was the freshman’s first collegiate goal in his first game on the top line with juniors Michael Pereira and Branden Gracel.
Carzo extended that lead early in the second period as his breakaway opportunity was halted by a tripping call on Garrett Noonan, resulting in the penalty shot. According to Carzo, it was the first penalty shot he’s ever taken in an organized hockey game.
“I had a million things going through my head,” he said. “But (O’Connor) is a tall goalie and it takes him a long time to get down so I thought just a quick shot, five-hole and it worked.”
Minutemen falter at BU
After winning just twice on the road last season, including a 3-2 win at Agganis Arena Feb. 10, there’s no doubt the Minutemen were looking to put last season’s road woes behind them with a good showing at BU Friday.
But if Friday’s game is any indicator, things don’t appear to be getting better.
A pair power-play goals and 28 saves by O’Connor lifted the Terriers to a 5-2 win and handed UMass its second straight conference defeat.
Sophomore goaltender Steve Mastalerz was effective in net, making 20 saves on 24 shots faced, but it was that fourth goal that he allowed that proved to be the back-breaker for the Minutemen.
UMass had just cut the Terriers’ lead to 3-2 when junior defenseman Joel Hanley scored nine minutes, 27 seconds into the third period, but found itself in a two-goal hole for the third time in the game 43 seconds later when sophomore forward Cason Hohmann scored on a rebound off his own shot that went in and out of the glove of Mastalerz. Hohmann regained possession of the puck and slipped it in five-hole to give the Terriers the 4-2 advantage.
Hohmann added an empty-net goal later in the frame to put the game out of reach.
The two skated to an evenly played, scoreless first period. But BU came out fast in the second, scoring the game’s first goal 51 seconds into the period off the stick of Megan. Danny O’Regan gave the Terriers a 2-0 lead with his first career goal at the 4:45 mark.
Junior forward Brandon Gracel cut the BU advantage in half with a goal 14:57 into the second period. But 10 minutes later the Terriers would yet again take a two-goal lead. This time on a 5-on-3 power play goal by O’Regan, who scored his second goal of the night at the 4:33 mark. The goal ended a streak of 11 consecutive successfully killed penalties for the Minutemen.
“I thought our guys played well for 90 to 95 percent of the time,” Micheletto said. “That’s good as a student, but not good enough to win in this league. We made critical mistakes at critical times and they wound up in the back of our net. That’s what happens when you play against good teams and give up those opportunities.
Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.