UMass hockey’s offense sputters in 5-2 loss to Maine

By Jason Kates

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(Sam Anderson/Daily Collegian)

In the Massachusetts hockey team’s latest defeat, the Minutemen failed to score at even strength, finding the back of the net twice via special teams in their 5-2 loss to Maine.

Freshman defenseman Ivan Chukarov scored his first career goal for UMass (7-15-4, 2-10-4 Hockey East) during a five-on-three power play, while Austin Plevy tallied his eighth goal of the year courtesy of a one-man advantage.

Minutemen coach John Micheletto felt his team drifted away from the aspects of their game that were working early on.

“I think in the second period we got away from some of the things at least offensively that we were having success with in terms of getting us in off the rush and creating opportunity off the cycle.“I think ultimately that played a factor in it. ” Micheletto said.

“It wasn’t that we were bad, we just weren’t as good as we should’ve been or as good as we were in the first period.”

The Minutemen were outscored 2-0 by the Black Bears (6-15-6, 3-8-2 HEA) in the second period, only registering six shots compared to Maine’s 10.

When asked what caused UMass to have trouble five-on-five offensively, Micheletto felt the second period was the difference.

“I thought we had good five-on-five play in the first and some spurts in the third,” Micheletto said. “I didn’t think we did enough to get ourselves in and keep the play off the wall, which is to their advantage.

Micheletto added: “You see a little bit of a shot advantage there in the second for them, a disadvantage for us. We’ve got to make sure we’re getting pucks in, and once we’re getting there, separating off the cycle to keep the play moving.”

Black Bear coach Red Gendron praised the top two lines of UMass, but also commended his players for keeping the Minutemen in check.

“It seemed throughout the game we did a pretty good job at even strength at limiting their offense,” Gendron said. “That’s pretty important, they’ve got two lines worth of players there that are pretty good and have pretty big numbers. We respect the hell out of those players.”

Gendron also touched on the momentum UMass gained, especially when Chukarov tied the score at one.

“We came out and scored the first goal, and the next thing you know there’s a couple of penalties, a five-minute major, then it’s a five-on-three,” Gendron said. “Of course they’re going to get some momentum and use it to tie the game.

“I thought we played well five-on-five and we need to take fewer penalties because when you make a little bit of a mistake on the penalty kill, they burn you like they did tonight,” Gendron added.

Minutemen unable to overcome defensive injuries 

Against a big, physical team like Maine, UMass could have used the presences of defensemen Callum Fryer and William Lagesson.

Fryer, who took a nasty hit against Vermont last Saturday, joined Lagesson on the injury list and was the most recent defenseman to find himself watching from the sideline.

Micheletto lamented the absences of this freshmen pair.

“Obviously we’ve been mindful over the last little while with being so nicked up on the back end, first with (Marc) Hetnik and (Carmine) Buono and (William) Lagesson being gone, and now Lagesson continue to be out and (Callum) Fryer out,” Micheletto said.

“We’ve tweaked some things to try and manage our rush defense which I think has been fine, but I think what you see against a shot and rebound team having some net presence and a little bit of physicality, those two guys not being in the lineup certainly makes a difference.”

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