Darren Rowe’s overtime goal lifts UMass to win over UNH

By Cameron McDonough

With his team facing a power play opportunity in overtime, Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto called a timeout to draw up what he hoped would be the game-winning goal.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

The play would start with an all-important face off win by Conor Sheary. Then Conor Allen would get the puck and he would find Shane Walsh in front of the net. With the defense focused on Walsh, he would flip the puck to Darren Rowe who would score the game winner on a back-door goal.

And once play resumed, that’s exactly what happened.

The goal came three minutes, eight seconds into overtime and it propelled the Minutemen (2-3-0, 1-3-0 Hockey East Association) to their first conference win of the season, 2-1, in overtime Friday night against No. 9 New Hampshire (4-1-1, 2-1-1 HEA) in front of 4,876 fans at the Mullins Center.

After the game Rowe was happy with way the play was executed and credits Micheletto for drawing it up.

“He drew the play up. He should’ve got the assist on the play,” Rowe said. “When I came in and Walsh got it, their defense kind of stepped off the goal line and it was coming. I was holding my stick tight. Then my shot, it hit his pad and I thought he might have got a piece of it, but luckily it went in and it felt pretty good.”

Micheletto was also happy that his team won its first Hockey East game of the season after losing leads late in games to Boston University and Boston College the previous two weekends.

“It’s heartwarming for our guys and the result they deserve,” Micheletto said. “It hasn’t always been the case and sometimes it’s been because of a few minor things on our part. But tonight was glad that we were able to get the two points mostly just for them. You’ve heard me say this in the past: it’s nice to get rewards when you deserve rewards. I think it will be a big reward for our guys and well deserved.”

The goal was Rowe’s third of the season. Allen was credited with his second assist of the game and Walsh got his first of the season.

The power play opportunity came after UNH’s Kevin Goumas went to the penalty box for an obstruction-interference penalty at the 2:09 mark in overtime.

UMass dominated the pace of play in the third period, outshooting UNH, 13-8. But the Minutemen were unable to capitalize on their opportunities due in large part to the play of Wildcats goaltender Casey DeSmith, who came up with 34 big saves in the game.

UMass did finally break through against DeSmith at the 12:21 mark in the second period when it squared the game at one apiece with a goal by junior forward Conor Sheary. Steven Guzzo set up the goal with a chip pass to Sheary, who finished it on a mini breakaway with a quick snapshot past DeSmith before he could get set in his crease.

The goal was Sheary’s first of the season.

Greg Burke scored the goal for the Wildcats with 34 seconds left in an evenly-played first period which saw both teams fire eight shots. The goal was Burke’s second of the season assisted by Goumas and Austin Block.

UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle played well Friday, making 25 saves on 26 shots.

The Minutemen outshot UNH, 36-26, on the night. Each team committed three penalties. Also of note, UMass won the faceoff battle by a decisive, 41-23 margin, highlighted by a perfect, 7-for-7 night by Sheary.

Up next for the Minutemen is a Sunday matinee on the road against No. 1 Boston College at 4 p.m.

The UMass seniors have yet to win a game at the Eagles’ home ice during their tenure and Rowe is hopeful that it will finally come when the Minutemen take the ice at Conte Forum Sunday.

“It would be huge,” Rowe said. “All three years I’ve been here in the playoffs, we’ve got swept there. We definitely have the confidence now to definitely go in there and you know we played them real tough, we should’ve beat them last time they were here, so we feel like we have a lot of confidence going in to beat them on Sunday.”

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @MDC_McDonough.