UMass suffers devastating loss to No. 12 Providence in overtime

By Jason Kates

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In the final eight seconds of the third period Providence was able to get one past Mastalerz. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Eight seconds.

That’s how much longer the Massachusetts hockey team needed to hang on to earn an impressive road victory against No. 12 Providence College.

But it couldn’t.

Instead, the Minutemen (9-20-2, 4-15-1 Hockey East) let their lead slip away, allowing a goal to Friars (19-10-2, 11-7-1 HEA) co-captain Ross Mauermann with eight seconds left that tied the game at two and sending the game into overtime.

With all the momentum in favor of Providence, Noel Acciari completed the comeback for the Friars, scoring the game-winning goal one minute, 54 seconds into the extra period and sending UMass back to Amherst empty-handed.

“It was a nice effort by our team in a tough building to play in against an obviously very difficult team and a very difficult goaltender,” coach John Micheletto said following his team’s latest defeat.

“We needed to get out of eight seconds or get the video review call that I thought should’ve been made. We did not reward ourselves for the effort we put into the first 59 minutes.”

Micheletto, referring to the goal that tied it, thought there appeared to be contact made by a Providence player against UMass goalie Steve Mastalerz, but the call stood following a review. This was not the first review of the game, as the Friars had a goal reversed at the 18:02 mark of the final period.

Despite a tremendous outing in net in which he made 40 saves, Mastalerz was left disheartened with the end result.

“It’s disappointing definitely,” he said. “We worked too hard as a team and to not get the (win) with eight seconds left on the clock was disappointing. But we still got a game tomorrow so you can’t get frustrated. You just got to keep working and just pull through tomorrow.”

Following a late goal like the one his team gave up, Micheletto knew momentum was on the Friars’ side.
“You’re trying to block out any negative thoughts that you may be having there,” he said. Basically, I thought we were in a good spot. We got through a couple of shifts and then we made one bad mistake and good teams bury them when you do that.”

Zack LaRue, who scored the second goal for the Minutemen to give them a 2-1 lead, knew that it would be important to not let a devastating blow like the tying goal intimidate the team.

“It sucks that they scored with eight seconds left but you try not to let it faze you because when it does, you’ve seen the outcome,” he said. “Coach tried to settle us down on the bench. In overtime, anything can happen, a bounce your way or a bounce their way.”

LaRue, who is known for his extremely hard work ethic, was rewarded when a Providence defender tried to skate the puck out in front of his own net. The senior stuck out his stick, poking the puck loose and into the net passed goaltender Jon Gillies at the 5:06 mark of the opening 20 minutes.

“On the forecheck, I saw Iacobellis going hard and I wanted to fall behind him,” LaRue said. “The defenseman tried to make a move around me and I was lucky enough to get the puck away from him and put it in the net when the goalie wasn’t really expecting it.”

“You don’t see too many goals like that when a puck touch on the forecheck winds up in the back of the net,” Micheletto added. “That paints a good picture of Zack LaRue’s game in terms of getting up and getting after it.”

Shane Walsh was the other goal scorer for UMass, opening the scoring seven minutes, 27 seconds into the game to give the Minutemen the 1-0 advantage.

Freshman Dennis Kravchenko failed to register a point in this one, ending his point streak at seven games.

Heading into Saturday’s game that will also be Senior Night, LaRue said a win at home in front of his family would mean everything.

“I owe UMass and the Mullins Center a lot and there’s no better way to finish it off then with a win.”

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jason_Kates.