UMass hockey fails to sweep Fighting Irish, prepares for Sunday’s deciding matchup

By Anthony Chiusano

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team held Notre Dame scoreless for the final 65 minutes of Friday night’s historic five-overtime victory.

But in game two of the Hockey East tournament’s first round matchup on Saturday, familiar problems regarding third period struggles and costly penalties returned in UMass’ 5-3 loss.

The Fighting Irish scored four unanswered goals, including three in the early stages of the final frame, to prevent a Minutemen series sweep and warrant a deciding third game Sunday night.

“Them scoring that many in the third, obviously it’s tough,” UMass defenseman Brandon Montour said. “We just have to keep our consistency and play our game like we did Friday night.”

Heading into the third period tied 2-2, Fighting Irish forward Vince Hinostroza quickly took advantage of a carry-over penalty from the closing seconds of the second period, scoring one minute, two seconds out of the break.

Three minutes later, Hinostroza scored his second goal of the game which was then followed by a Steven Fogarty goal 38 seconds later. Notre Dame’s run opened up an insurmountable 5-2 lead less than five minutes into the frame.

“They capitalized on their power play there to start the third and I think we kind of just lost our game plan,” Minutemen forward Shane Walsh said. “They scored a couple of quick ones and we just couldn’t recover from that.”

Although Hinostroza’s initial goal was the Fighting Irish’s only power play conversion – Notre Dame finished 1-for-6 on the man advantage – penalties played a large role in limiting UMass’ offense over the final period of play.

The Minutemen recorded just five shots over the last 20 minutes of regulation in which they committed four penalties. In the final two periods combined, UMass only had 11 shots after a 14-shot opening period.

“When you’re killing penalties it kind of just disrupts the rhythm of the game and any kind of flow that you want to get into,” Walsh said.

Montour added that some of the Minutemen’s infractions were caused by frustration or a lack of focus and could have been avoided.

“Those are just lazy plays and not staying smart,” said Montour who had two penalties. “We’ve got to stick as a team and play our game. We got off that a bit and that’s what cost us.”

Freshman Riley McDougall ended Notre Dame’s run with a shorthanded goal 16:15 into the third period. The tally brought the score to its 5-3 conclusion.

UMass held its only lead of the game 3:41 into the second period when Friday’s hero Walsh gave the Minutemen a 2-1 lead on his 14th goal of the season. In the series opener, Walsh recorded the game-winning score in the fifth overtime.

Frank Vatrano finished with UMass’ other goal, his team-leading 18th, in the first period to erase an early 1-0 deficit.

A night after Fighting Irish goaltender Cal Petersen finished with an NCAA-record 87 saves and UMass’ Steve Mastalerz had a school-record 75, both netminders returned to the starting lineup to face significantly lower shots.

Mastalerz finished with 16 saves and five goals allowed before being replaced by freshman Henry Dill in the third period. In a winning effort, Petersen turned aside 22 Minutemen shots.

Montour said that UMass struggled to find scoring opportunities close to the crease which he said was necessary to do against a goalie of Petersen’s caliber.

“We needed shots on net and we needed to get traffic on (Petersen),” Montour said. “He’s a very good goalie.”

Coming off the longest game in NCAA history less than 24 hours before Saturday’s faceoff, Walsh brushed aside the notion that fatigue played a factor in the loss. He noted that the heavy workload was a challenge for both teams.

“Both teams had to play five overtimes so I don’t think fatigue had an impact in tonight’s game,” Walsh said. “Both teams were tired so it was just about grinding it out and playing hard.”

With another quick turnaround in line for Sunday’s deciding game at 7:05 p.m., Walsh said that the Minutemen must match the Fighting Irish’s intensity and rediscover the energy that was present in Friday’s emotional victory.

“You just have to put (the loss) behind you,” Walsh said. “It’s a one-game series now. We just have to stay positive and wake up (Sunday) morning with some energy.”

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