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

Opportunistic goals and sturdy net play propel New Hampshire to victory over UMass hockey

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

Sometimes it’s not about the number of chances you earn in a given game, but rather about converting on those chances that present themselves throughout the course of a game.

The Massachusetts hockey team learned that lesson the hard way Friday night – getting the better of the New Hampshire’s opportunities at Mullins Center, but failed to convert falling 4-1 to UNH (2-3, 1-0 Hockey East Association) in the first Hockey East contest of the season.

Leading 2-1 heading into the final period of play, Wildcat Dylan Maller effectively put the game away with a wraparound goal past freshman goaltender Ryan Wischow (27 saves) less than a minute into the third period. Shane Eiserman put any hope for a Minutemen (2-3, 0-1 HEA) comeback out of reach when he scored on the sixth UNH power play of the night just nine minutes later.

UMass had several chances to score during a five-minute stretch between 13:18-18:19 of the second period, during which the Minutemen held a man advantage for two minutes. Time and time again UMass was denied admittance past the red goal line behind the crease by Wildcat goaltender Danny Tirone, who made 26 saves on the night. Six power play opportunities netted just one goal for the home team.

The Minutemen sought a late goal in hopes of getting back into the affair, but failed to convert. Ivan Chukarov’s drive from the blue line was stopped by Tirone, which preceded a deflection off the stick of Dominic Trento that went just wide.

With just over 10 minutes to play in the period, Luke McElhenie had a breakaway chance and was in alone, but could not deke his way past the UNH netminder. Eiserman put the game away less than a minute later.

“We play OK for spurts, but then we do a lot of things to shoot ourselves in the foot,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “That’s kind of the barrier right now we need to get around.”

Shane Bear cut the Wildcat lead in half as his slap shot from the point bounced passed Tirone during a 5-on-3 power play for the first goal of his collegiate career in the second period.

“It felt good,” Bear said of his first goal. “You’ll always remember your first one. It was a simple one. Just doing what the coaches tell me to get the pucks on net on the power play and good things will happen.”

UNH had double-digit shot totals in all three periods to go with seven power play chances – converting on two of them.

Michael McNicholas scored the first goal of the game on a Wildcat man advantage at the end of the first period. McNicholas beat Wischow on a slap shot from the far faceoff circle off a touch pass from star forward Tyler Kelleher.

Liam Blackburn scored the eventual game-winning goal at 2:59 in the second period off a pass from Brendan van Riemsdyk – brother of professional hockey player James – from behind the net that found Blackburn alone in front of Wischow for the easy tally.

Ryan Badger had a chance to pick up his first assist of his collegiate career in the first period, but failed to do so thanks to a leg save from Tirone – stoning Riley McDougall in the slot to keep the game scoreless. Jonny Lazarus hit the right post just minutes later.

“There’s a standard you want to be at and right now I’m not sure what our standard is,” Carvel said. “We go in spurts, we might have a decent game and then we fall off. So, consistency is a major issue right now.”

The quick turnaround for the next opponent is less than ideal, as the No. 8-ranked team in the nation Boston College comes to town for a second consecutive Hockey East contest for the Minutemen. Puck drop from Mullins Center is at 7 p.m.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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