Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey swept by Maine in weekend series

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(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

A two-goal lead is often referred to as the worst lead in hockey. Saturday night the Massachusetts hockey team showed why.

The Minutemen led 2-0 heading into the third period against Maine but three goals from the Black Bears – including Blaine Byron’s game-winner with less than two minutes to play – stunned UMass in a 3-2 loss.

It was a disappointing end to an unsatisfactory weekend for the Minutemen (2-5-0, 1-4-0 Hockey East), who also lost 6-5 in overtime to Maine Friday night.

After a pair of second-period goals from Frank Vatrano (his first of the season) and Dennis Kravchenko, UMass seemed firmly in control heading into the final frame on Saturday with goaltender Steve Mastalerz keeping the Black Bears off the board with 23 saves through 40 minutes.

But Maine (3-4-1, 2-0-0 Hockey East) came out of the locker room revived offensively, outshooting UMass 15-6 in the third period.

Byron’s deciding goal 18 minutes, 37 seconds into the final period was a microcosm of the night for the Minutemen. The freshman corralled the puck after a shot went wide of the net and threw a centering pass toward the front of the goal. The pass didn’t connect with any of his teammates but instead hit UMass center Steven Iacobellis and deflected into the back of the net.

Although the Minutemen were outshot 38-32 for the game, they came out firing to start the opening period, putting 18 shots on goal. UMass broke through on the powerplay at 14:31 when Kravchenko picked up his third goal of the weekend. Vatrano extended the lead a minute later.
The Minutemen were stifled through the next two periods by freshman goalie Sean Romeo, who made 30 saves on the night to pick up his first collegiate win.

Mastalerz was just as good for UMass, recording 35 saves while falling victim to a pair of fluky goals. While the game-winning score was knocked in accidentally by one of his own players, Mastalerz was also helpless on the first goal of the night when Black Bears’ captain Devin Shore deflected a puck past him just inches in front of the crease.

Mastalerz sat in favor of freshman Henry Dill last weekend and in the first game against the Black Bears on Friday. Saturday’s appearance marked the senior’s first start since Oct. 17 Michigan State.

UMass loses in OT

Friday’s 6-5 overtime loss to Maine featured two comeback attempts by UMass before Brian Morgan clinched a Black Bears’ victory 53 seconds into the extra period.

UMass found itself in a 3-0 deficit before rallying to tie the game on a trio of second-period scores.

The Minutemen then trailed 5-3 before converting on two late goals to force overtime.

Maine threatened to turn the game into a rout early with goals from Malcolm Hayes, Cam Brown and Steven Swavely in the game’s opening 22 minutes.

But the Minutemen responded as Kravchenko scored the first two goals of his collegiate career to make the game 3-2. Ray Pigozzi scored 15:07 into the second period to tie the game.

Down 5-4 late in regulation, UMass got a game-tying goal from an unlikely source. Senior defenseman Mike Busillo scored the first goal of his career to tie the game with less than two minutes left.

Kravchenko led the way offensively with his two goals and an assist. Freshman Patrick Lee also chipped in with a goal and assist. In total, nine different Minutemen recorded points on the night.

Dill, making his fourth straight start, took the loss in net, allowing a career-high six goals.

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RossGien

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