UMass hockey drops 4-1 decision against No. 3 Quinnipiac Friday night

By Ross Gienieczko

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Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

A few times this season, the Massachusetts hockey team has found itself on a roll. In each instance, however, one of the top teams in the country has been waiting to slow down the Minutemen.

It was no different Friday night at Mullins Center in Amherst, as UMass dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 3 Quinnipiac. Marc Hetnik scored the lone goal of the night for the Minutemen for his first of the season. But a strong Bobcats defense limited UMass to just 18 shots on goal, about 10 lower than the Minutemen’s season average.

Quinnipiac opened the scoring at the six minutes, 58 second mark in the first period courtesy of Alex Miner-Barron, who scored his first goal of the season to put the Bobcats on the board. Just 24 seconds later, Sam Anas scored his ninth of the year to stretch the lead to 2-0. Landon Smith would add another goal late in the period to put UMass in a big 3-0 hole after one.

“It felt like we were tentative in the early going,” Minutemen coach John Micheletto said. “We were not ourselves in that regard.”

After a scoreless second period, Hetnik’s tally at 5:11 in the third period cut the lead to 3-1. But UMass (6-4-4, 2-2-4 Hockey East) couldn’t muster any more offense for another potential comeback, and Quinnipiac ended all thoughts of a rally when Andrew Taverner scored to make it 4-1 at 10:17 of the third.

“We were not playing with our usual speed or pace tonight,” Micheletto said after the game. “We allowed them some time and space to make the ice big.”

Nic Renyard made 30 saves in net for the Minutemen, but his record fell to 4-3-4 as a starter this season.

Quinnipiac (12-0-2, 4-0-2 ECAC) stayed unbeaten this season and continued a stretch of defensive dominance. The Bobcats have allowed just seven goals in their last six games, and are allowing just 1.5 goals against per game on the year.

And with Quinnipiac at No. 3 in the country, it was another top test that UMass couldn’t pass. It was the Minutemen’s fourth loss of the season, with all of them coming against ranked teams. Before Friday night’s setback, UMass had fallen to then-No. 13 Yale, No. 3 Boston College and No. 14 Merrimack.

“That’s the reality of wanting to be great,” Micheletto said. “You’ve got to prove it against good teams. But I think we’re closer at this point than we were five weeks ago.”

Anas led the offensive charge for the Bobcats, as he added two assists to go along with his goal. Smith also added an assist to help pace Quinnipiac to its four-goal night. Michael Garteig made 17 saves in net to earn his 12th win of the season, while his save percentage improved to .942 on the year.

Following the loss Friday night, the Minutemen will have a quick turnaround as they’ll travel to Hamden, Connecticut for a 4 p.m. matchup against the Bobcats in the backend of the teams’ home-and-home weekend series.

According to Micheletto, UMass has to get back to playing its own game in order to avoid a similar result as Friday night.

“They realize how we need to play and the success that we can have,” Micheletto said. “But the good news is, we showed ourselves the answer with our play in the third period.”

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