Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey suffers tough 3-2 loss in first road game of the season

By Nick Souza

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Alex Tang/Collegian

(Alex Tang/Collegian)

The first road test of the season for the Massachusetts hockey team ended with disappointment as it fell to No. 6 Quinnipiac 3-2 Tuesday night at the TD Bank Sports Center.

The Minutemen (2-2) managed to tie the game at two a piece in the second period following a power play goal from freshman forward Jack Suter with 7:51 left in the period.

However, in the third period, the Bobcats (4-2-1) scored what would prove to be the game winner with 7:03 left to play. UMass was caught in the middle of a line change, which led to a turnover in neutral ice that opened the door for QU forward Tanner MacMaster to send a wrist shot through the five-hole of goaltender Nic Renyard to take a 3-2 lead.

The game unfolded in waves, as the Minutemen spent most of the first period playing in their defensive end of the ice. Renyard faced constant pressure and the Bobcats managed to slip in a couple of early goals to take a 2-0 lead 14 minutes into the game.

While UMass was slow to start, Minutemen coach Greg Carvel didn’t fault the team as whole.

“There were some individual mistakes that really shouldn’t have happened,” Carvel said. “There’s 20 guys playing and when one guy makes a mistake that doesn’t mean the whole team is playing poorly.”

Just before the end of the first period, UMass grabbed a much needed goal from their fourth line as sophomore forward Ryan Badger jammed the puck home coming from behind the net with just 1:31 to go in the period.

“It was a huge goal,” Carvel said. “It really gave the team a lift going into the locker room down just one goal against a top team on the road.”

The second period opened with the Minutemen continuing to apply the pressure they had at the end of the previous period, but penalty problems quickly stifled their momentum.

Renyard and the UMass penalty kill unit faced two 5-on-3 odd-man situations against QU and managed to stonewall the Bobcats on both occasions.

“That’s what we were expecting from the pre-scout,” Renyard said. “They like to get the puck on net and they were going to show us something very different on the penalty from what we saw against Army. I thought our penalty kill did really well.”

Despite giving up the game-winning goal, Renyard had a very strong performance in net, saving 43 of 46 shots. His counterpart’s night contrasted sharply as QU goalie Chris Truehl was tested just 19 times, stifling 17 shots.

“I know [Renyard] wants that game winning goal back,” Carvel said. “But I thought he showed himself well tonight.”

Another point of emphasis early in the season for the Minutemen has been special teams. UMass successfully killed nine of 10 power plays along with scoring a power play goal of its own in the second period, suggesting improvement.

However, Carvel will continue to focus on that aspect of the game with his team moving forward.

“I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement on special teams,” Carvel said. “Refs are making a lot of calls these days; it’s almost 50 percent of the game. We might as well spend most of the time on special teams in practice.”

While the name of the game is not to gain moral victories, there were some positives for the Minutemen to take away from Tuesday’s loss, according to Carvel.

“This was a game that we were going to learn a lot about ourselves from,” Carvel said. “We learned that we can play with the best teams in the nation, but we can’t make these mistakes that makes it easier for our opponents to score.”

UMass will host New Hampshire on Friday with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. at Mullins Center.

Nick Souza can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @nicksouza27.

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