UMass club hockey drops pair of weekend games against RPI, UNH

By Ariel Kallenbach

(Jessica Chaiken/Daily Collegian)

Leading 1-0 in the second period, Ryan Daigle took a clean shot from the point at Rensselaer goaltender Spencer Whitehead. Captain Harris Stone was the first to get to the puck off the deflection from Whitehead, putting home the rebound that would have given the Massachusetts club hockey team a commanding two-goal lead.

Only sometime between Daigle’s assist and Stone’s goal the referees whistled the play dead, calling off the Minutemen’s second goal.

Not only did the controversial play change the complexity of the period, but the game as well, as the Red Hawks escaped with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

“It changed the whole game. It was clearly a goal and the whistle went when the puck was loose,” associate head coach Joe Smith said. “Instead of up two, we were tied two minutes later.”

What would have given the Minutemen a comfortable two-goal lead shifted quickly into a nail-biter when RPI’s Rusty Teller, who was serving a minor for tripping, jumped out of the penalty box a few seconds before the penalty had ended. Unseen by the referees, Teller snagged the puck and initiated a play that would lead to tying goal for the Red Hawks, making the score 1-1.

RPI took the lead with 13 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the final period after a lucky bounce went right to the stick of Sam Mannion, who beat UMass goaltender Luke Lepine, securing the 2-1 victory.

“We did a much better job limiting turnovers, but we weren’t crisp enough especially in the first period – we weren’t connecting on a lot of passes that we usually make,” Smith said.

Minutemen fall to Wildcats

Despite a hat trick from forward Peter Kelly – all three goals coming over an 11-minute span in the second period – UMass dropped its first game of the weekend pair 8-5 against New Hampshire.

Kelly’s third goal of the game came with 1.3 seconds remaining in the second as he snuck a loose puck past goaltender Dylan Palmer, cutting the Wildcat lead to 5-3.

The Minutemen trailed 5-0 in the second period before Adam Kmetz ended the drought on a partial breakaway to give UMass its first goal of the game. Although Kelly exploded in the second period, the Minutemen weren’t able to match the pace of the UNH offense.

“He’s a guy who really adds a lot of depth to our lineup and contributes heavily on the penalty kill. You always get 110 percent from him and he does the little things in every zone to help you win,” Smith said of Kelly. “It was good to see him break out and put some pucks in the net. He’s really played a big role for us over the last few games.”

The Wildcats returned to the third period with a vengeance and a UMass turnover in front of the net allowed UNH to score, giving it a it 7-4 lead. The Minutemen answered this with their final goal of the game by Scott Cook shortly after.

Despite having pulled the goalie with two minutes, 10 seconds left in the third, UMass was not able to regain control of the game.

“We gave up some cheap goals to begin with; we weren’t ready to play off the start, no energy in the first.” Smith said. “But as soon as we starting climbing back into it we were there, we had the energy, but then we’d make one mistake and they’d put it in our net.”

Though after the first period the Minutemen played with a great sense of urgency, they could not match the UNH’s speed advantage. Disjointed play also led to scoring opportunities for the Wildcats..

“Turnovers, that’s all it comes down to. We turned the puck over too many times.” Smith said.

The Minutemen will spend the next few weeks on an away game stretch and plan to make a comeback from this unrewarding weekend.

“We know we’re in for a tough stretch and we need to forget about this weekend, have a good week of practice and try to regain our momentum.” Smith said. “We’re much better than we’ve played recently and we need to play up to our potential in order to be successful these next couple weeks.”

The Minutemen return home Dec. 5 to take on Marist College at 8 p.m.

Ariel Kallenbach can be reached at [email protected]