UMass hockey lets early lead slip away, loses to UVM

By Cameron McDonough

It’s hard to have a better opening 59 seconds than the Massachusetts hockey team had on Friday night.

But hockey isn’t a 59-second game.

Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

The other 59 minutes, one second, on the other hand, belonged to Vermont.

The Minutemen exploded for two goals in the game’s first 59 seconds, but UVM responded with the next three to earn a 3-2 win over UMass in front of a crowd of 4,315 at Mullins Center.

The biggest reason behind the turnaround was the effectiveness of the Catamounts’ power play. They went 2-for-5 on the man advantage and scored their thirdgoal on a 4-on-4 situation.

“I thought our power play was a huge difference in the game tonight,” UVM coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought we had great sustained pressure for the majority of the power play minutes we had.”

The biggest penalty came at the 14:03 mark in the second period when Oleg Yevenko was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing. UMass (3-(8-2, 1-5-2 Hockey East) would’ve had a lengthy power play chance after Rob Hamilton was given a five-minute major of his own, but Yevenko’s penalty swung momentum back in UVM’s direction.

The Catamounts took advantage seven seconds later when Nick Bruneteau’s shot hit off of UMass goalie Steve Mastalerz but trickled past him and into the back of the net, giving UVM the lead for good.

“You can’t be in a close game and be on a power play and then all of a sudden lose a player and lose any chance of momentum at that stage,” UMass coach John Micheletto said.

The Minutemen’s early goals started when Adam Phillips scored a mere 15 seconds in when he banged home a rebound off of Michael Pereira’s initial shot for the early 1-0 advantage.

Steven Iacobellis score the second one 44 seconds later when Ray Pigozzi fed him in front of the net on a 2-on-1 for the quick 2-0 advantage.

UVM didn’t stay off the board for long. It got a power-play goal off a deflection from Colin Markison at the 8:26 mark in the first. Palotta had the original shot at the left point and Markison was there to tip it to beat Steve Mastalerz glove side.

The Catamounts (4-5-1, 3-4 HEA) tied the game early in the second frame when Pete Massar tipped in a shot from Michael Paliotta for his team’s second power play goal of the night.

“We had the momentum wrestled back away from us,” Micheletto said. “That shouldn’t happen on your home rink, first period and when you’re up 2-0 two and a half minutes into the game. … We did not respond to hard play with hardness, which is required in this league.”

A scary moment did happen late in the first period for UMass when Troy Power had to be helped off the ice favoring his right leg. This came a year after he missed most of last season with an injury. But Power made a surprise return to the bench after the second period had already started and then returned to the ice.

After missing the past three games with an undisclosed injury, Mastalerz returned to the ice on Friday night and made 26 stops.

“I though he was fine,” Micheletto said. “I thought he gave us a chance to win. I don’t think we played very well in front of him. We required him to work more than he probably needed tonight.”

His opposition, Brody Hoffman, made 21 stops in net.

The two teams will be back at it on Sunday at 4 p.m. in Burlington, Vt.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.