No luck for UMass hockey in 3-1 loss to No. 20 Notre Dame Friday night

By Jason Kates

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

It was another slow night offensively for the Massachusetts hockey team as its winless streak was extended to seven after falling to No. 20 Notre Dame 3-1 Friday night.

Despite recording 28 shots, the Minutemen (6-6-4, 2-3-4 Hockey East) only mustered one goal past Fighting Irish (7-4-4, 4-1-2 HEA) goaltender Cal Petersen, courtesy of Shane Walsh’s team-leading 10th goal of the season.

UMass once again was tasked with coming from behind, allowing a goal by Notre Dame captain Steven Fogarty just three minutes, 38 seconds into the contest. The deficit was extended 3:24 later when Dawson Cook doubled the lead for the Fighting Irish.

After finding themselves in a 2-0 hole early, coach John Micheletto felt his team was able to settle into the game.

“I’d say we were good as the game wore on, got better and more effective as the game wore on,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “I thought (Notre Dame) came out with a real sense of purpose at home and buried a couple of opportunities that they were able to generate.

“We eventually got to the point where we pushed back, but it wasn’t enough,” he added.

In the second period, the Minutemen generated some offensive chances, but were denied by Petersen and eventually allowed a third score from Notre Dame’s Thomas DiPauli in what Micheletto called a “pivotal stint in the game.”

“I thought we had opportunities early in the second period where we had a couple of grade-A opportunities that if we had put it in the back of the net to make to 2-1 it could’ve made a difference,” he said.

“They kind of got a seeing-eye dog on a backhand floater through traffic that extended it to 3-0, and we really had our work cut out for us. That put us in a tough spot.”

As if coming back from three goals down wasn’t already a giant task, achieving this against the Fighting Irish on the road made the challenge even tougher.

“It’s tough, that’s why home-ice advantage is what it is,” Micheletto said. “With the travel and what not, I thought we did a good job of managing our emotions and like I said, chipping away to get back into it.

“We certainly had some confidence in our play, particularly in the second period and through the third, but again we need to bend don’t break in those situations and Notre Dame took advantage and that was the difference.”

One positive Micheletto took away from this effort was his defense’s ability to adjust to the tempo and pace of the game and limit the number of chances the Irish recorded over the last two periods.

Outshot 12-4 in the first period, UMass recorded 24 shots in the final 40 minutes, compared to the 18 by Notre Dame.

In goal, freshman Nic Renyard was credited with 27 saves in the losing effort, moving to 4-4-4 on the year.

“I think our defense was good limiting their offense,” Micheletto said. “Obviously you don’t like to give up three and you wanna be the ones to be the first to three but the fact that we were able to more or less neutralize their offense as the game wore on I think gives us a fair amount of confidence heading into (Saturday).”

While it’s easy for teams to get down on themselves during a rough stretch, Micheletto doesn’t feel this is the case with his team, noting several factors as reasons for this recent skid.

Over the last seven contests, the Minutemen have faced three ranked teams (Quinnipiac, Merrimack, Notre Dame), with five of the games being played on the road.

“I don’t think it’s that difficult with our group right now,” Micheletto said when asked how to keep the mood positive. “We’ve had good performances and feel like we’re in a position to win games, it’s just not falling for us right now. We’ve hit a dry spell in terms of finishing the opportunities that we’ve had and I think everyone understands that that’s going to happen at times.”

UMass looks to break this streak Saturday night with another contest against the Fighting Irish set for 6 p.m. The game will be nationally broadcasted on NBCSN.

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