Vermont throttles UMass hockey 11-1

By Ross Gienieczko

Photo by Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian
Photo by Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team suffered its worst defeat since 1976 Saturday night against Vermont, when the Catamounts pummeled the Minutemen by a final score of 11-1.

“We certainly need to apologize to our fans,” UMass coach John Micheletto said after the game. “It was a poor response without any pushback.”

“I have not been in a game like that,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It’s difficult. I have all the respect in the world for John and his staff and certainly their players … It was just one of those games where the puck had eyes.”

Playing on the second night of a tough back-to-back against nationally ranked opponents, UMass (3-7, 1-6 Hockey East) was dominated in all three areas of the game. Goaltending was poor, the defense was abysmal and the Minutemen never had a chance to establish any offensive presence.

UMass was overwhelmed by the depth Vermont brought to the table. Seventeen different players recorded points for the Catamounts (8-3-1, 6-3-1 HEA), including at least one player from all four forward lines. Malcolm McKinney notched a hat trick to lead the offensive barrage, Rob Darrar was credited with three assists and Brady Shaw had a quiet two-goal night. Vermont was 4-for-5 on the power play in the game.

“That’s our team, really,” Sneddon said. “It’s always nice to see all our guys step up and get the job done.”

While Friday night’s 5-3 loss against Boston College was a competitive, back and forth affair, Saturday’s was anything but. Three goals in the first period put Vermont up 3-0, and the onslaught only continued from there. Starting UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz was replaced by Henry Dill at the start of the second period, but the move had no effect. Vermont added three more goals on Dill in the second period, and the game was effectively over halfway through the frame.

In the third, the goals kept coming. Without really pressing too hard, the Catamounts scored five times in the period. At one point, with about three minutes left, Vermont players stopped shooting and instead opted to cycle the puck around the boards.

Mastalerz, Dill and third stringer Alex Wakaluk combined to post a save percentage of .645. Mastalerz gave up three goals as the starter; Dill allowed five in relief and Wakaluk surrendered three more as the closer.

The lone goal for the Minutemen came from Ben Gallacher, assisted by Zack LaRue. Incredibly, Gallacher and LaRue each finished with a +1 plus/minus rating in a game that saw UMass outscored by 10 goals.

It was the worst defeat for the Minutemen since Nov. 23, 1976 when UMass fell 11-0 to St. Anselm.

After the game, Micheletto spoke about how the team looked and how they have to challenge themselves to improve.

“When you get the mirror held up in front of you on a bad day, it’s not pretty,” Micheletto said. “When you see that image staring back at you, you have to make some decisions to change what you see or continue down that path.”

It will be a quick turnaround for UMass, and it’ll have to face the same Vermont team again, in the second half of a home and home series on Tuesday.

“I hope people continue to give us a chance to prove what we’re worth,” Micheletto said, “because tonight was certainly not a good representation of that.”

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vermont.

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