UMass club hockey’s postseason aspirations cut short against Boston University

By Ryan Ames

(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)
(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

Losing in the playoffs is tough to swallow for any team, but when the loss comes after such a successful regular season as the Massachusetts club hockey team had, it’s all the more heart-wrenching.

UMass (22-7-2) lost to Boston University 4-1 Saturday night in the ACHA Division II Northeast Regional tournament held in Danbury, Connecticut.

“Extremely disappointing,” coach Mike DeFazio said regarding his team’s early exit. “It certainly wasn’t what we expected or prepared for, but I got say to hats off to BU for coming out to play and earning a spot to nationals.”

The Terriers (14-8-0) opened the scoring one minute, 48 seconds into the first period with a power play goal to put the Minutemen behind early.

BU scored the next goal, this time 3:30 into the second period, to give the Terriers a two-goal lead and force UMass to play catch-up hockey once again.

“When we got down I think we held our sticks a little too tight and got a little antsy once we realized the clock was now our enemy,” DeFazio said after BU’s second goal.

The Minutemen got on the board at the start of the third period after sophomore Jake Mercier beat the Terrier goaltender on the power play with a hard shot from the point.

Even though this goal gave UMass a spark, it ultimately wouldn’t be enough as BU would add a late tally to put the game away and end the Minutemen’s season on a sour note.

When asked about his team’s unforeseen postseason struggles, DeFazio couldn’t pinpoint a specific reason for the unexpected exit.

“It’s hard to say. I think we may have overlooked our opponents these past two games and were looking ahead to nationals,” DeFazio said. “We came out flat in both games and that allowed our opponents to jump on the scoreboard quick, and looking back, that prevented us from getting two huge wins.”

Although UMass didn’t see their postseason aspirations come to fruition, DeFazio was quick to mention junior Casey Litwack as a constant threat, out of many for the Minutemen, throughout the entire season.

“He [Litwack] pulled it all together for us this year,” DeFazio said. “He scored some big goals, logged some key minutes on both the penalty kill and power-play, so if I had to say, Casey was our most improved player and our MVP this season.”

“Obviously our captains (Ryan Daigle, Brian Collins, Mark Fidler, and Peter Kelly) played a huge role down the stretch as well since we relied on them for leadership, and for the most part, they did just that,” DeFazio added.

Looking ahead to next year’s team, UMass will graduate nine seniors, including all four captains. Adam Haidari, Stephen Metayer, Alex Rojas, Luke Lepine and Kyle Wakefield will also be departing for the Minutemen.

DeFazio is looking forward to the future of the team.

“I’m excited for next year,” DeFazio said. “I think this loss will give the guys who are returning some motivation for next year and I’m definitely hungry to get back at it and build upon what we started this season.”

Next weekend the Minutemen officially wrap-up their season with the second annual University Cup tournament. Held at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, this end of the season, friendly tournament is between Westfield State, Bridgewater State, UMass Lowell, and the Minutemen. The consolation game is set for 11:30 a.m. and the championship game will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected]