UMass hockey swept away by No. 20 Notre Dame in Saturday’s 5-1 decision

By Ross Gienieczko

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

In the second game of its weekend series at Compton Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana, the Massachusetts hockey team fell behind early, rallied to tie the game 1-1, but allowed four subsequent unanswered goals as No. 20 Notre Dame finished a weekend sweep of the Minutemen with a 5-1 victory.

Fighting Irish goaltender Cal Peterson made 28 saves and forward Anders Bjork (a Boston Bruins draft pick) scored a pair of third period goals to put what was a 3-1 game out of reach. Notre Dame (8-4-4, 5-1-2 HEA) was staked to its 3-1 lead off goals from Steven Fogarty, Dylan Malmquist and Connor Hurley.

UMass (6-7-4, 2-4-4 Hockey East) senior Shane Walsh scored the Minutemen’s lone goal for the second night in a row to increase his team-leading total to 11. He was one of the lone bright spots for a Minutemen offense that generated chances, but struggled to finish against Notre Dame on the weekend.

“We’re just not finishing chances,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “We were generating plenty of grade-A opportunities.”

Fogarty opened the scoring at three minutes, 33 seconds of the first period after a shot from Mario Lucia deflected off of him and beat Minutemen goaltender Nic Renyard from a bad angle. Walsh evened the game at 7:11 in the first period, but Malmquist put the Irish back ahead under two minutes later.

UMass would generate several good opportunities early in the game, but couldn’t solve Peterson. The sophomore from Waterloo, Indiana won his fourth straight game against the Minutemen dating back to last year’s Hockey East tournament. The Fighting Irish won the opening round series two games to one after the Minutemen took the opening game in an epic five-overtime marathon that set the NCAA record for longest Division I game played. In that game, Peterson made an NCAA-record 87 saves despite taking the loss.

“We had great pace and energy in the early going, but their goaltender was equal to the task,” Micheletto said.

After Notre Dame retook its lead, Micheletto said the Minutemen started to struggle in a bad position on the road.

“Trying to play from behind on the road on night two of a trip is not an easy task,” Micheletto said.

Sophomore forward Dennis Kravchenko – the team leader in points with seven goals and 10 assists – failed to record a point for the sixth straight game. He had 17 in the first 11 games of the year.

But despite the pointless night, Kravchenko looked more like himself in the 5-1 defeat, landing four shots on net and hitting one post on a wrist shot that beat Peterson.

“Tonight he generated as many offensive chances as anyone,” Micheletto said. “His game is in a good spot. He was our leading scorer last year and is drawing a lot of attention this year, especially on the road.”

Micheletto also said the amount of road games has contributed to Kravchenko’s slump, as opposing coaches have used the benefit of having the last line change in order to match up their top defensemen against the sophomore.

The Minutemen will return home on Friday night, when they’ll host Union. Puck drop at the Mullins Center is set for 7 p.m.

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