Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey suffers heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to Union to push winless streak to nine

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian
Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team has suffered all types of losses this season.

There was the 6-1 loss to No. 15 Yale on Oct. 31 in the Capital City Classic championship, a 7-0 loss at No. 3 Boston College on Nov. 3 – a game in which the Minutemen allowed six goals in the second period – and then there was a close 1-0 defeat on the road at No. 2 Quinnipiac on Nov. 28.

However, Friday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to Union College could be the one that will sting the most up until this point in the season for the Minutemen, who moved to 6-8-4 on the year and have not won in over a month.

It seemed like the game would end in a 3-3 stalemate with time in the extra period dwindling down, but a cruel twist of fate left UMass with yet another defeat.

After it appeared captain Steven Iacobellis had won a faceoff in the Minutemen’s defensive zone, Dutchmen (6-6-4, 2-5-1 ECAC) forward Sebastian Vidmar corralled the puck and snuck a backhand effort around UMass goaltender Nic Renyard with nine seconds left for the win.

“I was certainly hoping that the second 17 (games) of the regular season would start better than this,” coach John Micheletto said. “Obviously we did not have our legs from the looks of it in the early going because that was pretty slow play out of a team that is built to play fast and typically plays very fast.

“I know it wasn’t for lack of focus, so I was glad that we were able to generate enough in the third to get ourselves back into it and obviously a very heartbreaking way to lose it on a faceoff win with nine seconds to go,” he added.

Despite a goal 49 seconds into the contest by junior Ray Pigozzi that gave the Minutemen a 1-0 lead, Union stormed back to score three unanswered goals, two of which came in the first period and the other in the second frame.

But as it has many times this season, UMass sprung to life in the third period, tying the game at three behind a second tally from Pigozzi and Shane Walsh’s team-leading 12th goal with 12 minutes to go.

“I can’t remember a game where we’ve come out like we wanted to come out, and you can’t do that in this league,” Walsh said. “We do flip a switch eventually somewhere in that second, third period, but if you’re not playing a full 60 minutes you’re not going to get the results you want.”

Perhaps the biggest chance the Minutemen had to take the lead came with four minutes, 11 seconds left in regulation when Dutchmen defenseman Noah Henry was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking-from-behind.

But Union thwarted any chance UMass had, with the Minutemen finishing 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Puck movement and zone entries were two things Walsh mentioned as important when on the power play but feels the team is “fighting the puck right now.”

“We just got to simplify our power play, we all have talent out there, it’s just a matter of realizing that we can make plays and get pucks to the net,” he said.

One positive note UMass can take from its defeat is that it found the back of the net three times, something that hasn’t occurred since Nov. 15 when the Minutemen tied Vermont 3-3.

“It’s nice to get three there,” Walsh said. “We expect a lot out of ourselves, you know when you play on those top two lines you’re expected to score. I think it’s nice for us to find the back of the net but obviously it wasn’t the result that we wanted.”

For Micheletto, he hopes this semi-offensive outburst will serve as a confidence booster moving forward, but acknowledged that this excitement will be limited.

“I think a lot of the other parts of the game should sting,” he said. “I know that we’re disappointed that we haven’t looked like that in the first period, I don’t know if ever. I think any bump that we’re getting from scoring a few goals is probably tempered by that first period lack of jump.”

UMass will play its last game of the calendar year Dec. 18 when it welcomes the United States junior national team to Amherst for an exhibition.

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

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