The Massachusetts hockey team had some positive vibes following its sweep of Michigan State at home last weekend. But another two-day road-trip marked another setback for the Minutemen.
UMass was swept at Alfond Arena this weekend by Hockey East rival Maine in non-conference action, capped off by an 8-4 drubbing on Saturday night.
Freshman goaltender Alex Wakaluk got his first career start for the Minutemen, but it would be short-lived. Wakaluk allowed six goals, all of which came in the second period, on 23 shots before being pulled in favor of Steve Mastalerz to start the third.
Trailing 1-0, Maine’s Josh Henke beat Wakaluk with a shot from the faceoff circle just one minute, 43 seconds into the second period.
That was only the beginning of the onslaught.
After Michael Pereira scored the Minutemen’s 10th power play of the season to give them the 2-1 advantage, the Black Bears (3-2) answered with five goals over the next 11 minutes to take a 6-2 lead into the third period.
Troy Power and Pereira each added power play goals in the third period to cut the UMass deficit to 7-4 late. The Minutemen (2-4) are now 12-for-37 on the man-advantage this season, which puts them third in the nation at 32.4 percent.
However, it was much too little, much too late as Mark Anthoine scored an empty-net goal 18:37 into the final period. It was Anthoine’s fourth point of the night.
UMass falls in OT
UMass may have been involved in a much closer game with the Black Bears on Friday night, but the result was still the same.
The Minutemen came back from a 2-0 deficit in the first period to tie the game, but Connor Leen’s power play goal 3:27 into overtime gave Maine the 3-2 win.
Just 30 seconds after Mike Busillo was called for hooking, Devin Shore and Ryan Lomberg set up Leen for the one-timer to beat goaltender Steve Mastalerz. It was the Black Bears’ second power play of the night.
“Reality was we shouldn’t have been in that situation to start with,” UMass coach John Micheletto told UMass Athletics after the game. “That lazy play we wound up having to take a penalty. You cheat the game it comes back to bit you in the rear end. That’s what happened (Friday).”
The Minutemen fell behind 2-0 14:19 into the first period on goals by Anthoine and Ben Hutton, whose tally came on a 5-on-3 opportunity.
UMass cut the deficit in half by the end of the period when freshman Ray Pigozzi scored his first-career goal from the left wing at 16:46.
The Minutemen evened the score at 2-2 on Conor Sheary’s first goal of the season, which came on a power play 13:50 into the second period on a wrist shot past Maine goaltender Martin Ouellette.
UMass’ best hockey came in the third period, when it outshot the Black Bears 13-7. But the Minutemen still came away with nothing despite some quality chances.
“We showed up in the third,” Micheletto told UMass Athletics, “that’s about it.”
UMass was outshot 28-14 in the first two periods, but was bailed out by the play of Mastalerz, who made a handful of key saves and finished with 34 for the game.
“I thought he was good enough for us to win (Friday),” Micheletto said. “If we had played hard enough in front of him for the first 40 minutes, we should have come away with the victory. That doesn’t add up to much at this point.”
All of the Minutemen’s losses have come on the road this season. Fortunately for them, they’ll have a chance at redemption over the Black Bears at Mullins Center next weekend with more at stake as the teams play a pair of conference games.
Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.