UMass hockey falters in chance to clinch season series versus UMass Lowell

By Anthony Chiusano

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Usually it’s the third period that poses a problem for the Massachusetts hockey team. But in Saturday’s road matchup against UMass Lowell, it was the opening frame that doomed the Minutemen in a 7-1 loss.

UMass (9-19-2, 4-14-1 Hockey East) allowed five unanswered goals through the first 20 minutes of play against the in-state rival River Hawks. Led by John Edwardh’s hat trick, UMass Lowell never trailed in front of its home crowd at the Tsongas Center.

In the Minutemen’s third straight game against the River Hawks –the first two resulted in a win and a tie – Saturday’s blowout defeat was a missed chance of clinching its first season series with UMass Lowell in five years.

“That’s just not something that we wanted to do especially with the boost that we’ve had of late,” freshman Dominic Trento said. “So yeah, it was a disappointment for sure.”

Edwardh began the game’s scoring five minutes, 21 seconds into the first period, beating Minutemen goalie Steve Mastalerz. Terrence Wallin followed suit 44 seconds later, quickly handing UMass a 2-0 deficit.

“We didn’t get the start that we wanted,” Trento said. “You get some not very smart penalties and we got into a hole early.”

UMass Lowell (17-10-4, 10-7-2 HE) would first capitalize on the power play at the 11:52 mark after UMass’ Jake Horton and Brandon Montour each committed hooking penalties. With the 5-on-3 advantage, Zack Kamrass scored from the blue line to extend the lead to 3-0.

Kamrass’ goal was one of two 5-on-3 goals scored by the River Hawks Saturday. They finished 2-for-7 on the power play.

“We have to stay out of the box, that was pretty evident,” Trento said. “Our penalty kill is good but when you’re taking six (or) seven in a game, it’s hard for (UMass Lowell) not to capitalize on at least one.”

After Joe Gambardella stretched the lead to four goals with six minutes left in the opening period, Mastalerz was replaced by freshman Henry Dill for the remainder of the game. The senior finished with nine saves and four goals allowed in his 14 minutes of action.

Mastalerz’s opponent in net and former Minuteman Kevin Boyle finished with 28 saves in the victory. Boyle was cut by UMass in 2013 before joining UMass Lowell.

The Minutemen’s lone goal against Boyle came from Trento halfway through the second period. Moved up to the starting line alongside Dennis Kravchenko and Shane Walsh, the score was the freshman’s fifth of the season.

“We were scrambling lines today because we were trying to figure out who was going,” Trento said. “It wasn’t my best performance, I think we kind of all underachieved today. It’s always nice to get a goal but it’s definitely overshadowed by the loss.”

Kravchenko, who assisted on Trento’s goal, extended his career-high points streak to seven. The freshman leads UMass with 27 points this season.

Trento said that he believes the Minutemen can put aside Saturday’s loss and regain the momentum that they were buildinf in their first two matchups with the River Hawks. UMass’ next test will be in a home-and-home series with No. 10 Providence next weekend.

“I feel like we’re definitely going to come back with a vengeance but tonight’s game was just a poor performance on our part,” Trento said.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.