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UMass hockey can’t thaw out from recent cold play in 4-1 loss to the Sun Devils

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(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts hockey team may have scored with just over three minutes to go to make the 4-1 loss to Arizona State semi-interesting, but it didn’t make up for how flat the Minutemen (4-11-2, 2-7-1 Hockey East Association) looked particularly at the beginning of the game.

ASU (6-13-0) took advantage of a couple of rebounds given up by UMass goaltender Ryan Wischow as Sun Devil center Anthony Croston scored both of his goals on the night via those rebounds. However, the three goals given up by Wischow (one on an empty net) fell more on the team than the freshman goalie according to Minutemen coach Greg Carvel.

“The goals that they scored tonight, he kind of got left out to dry,” Carvel said. “It’s not his fault that we’re losing.”

It was Croston’s second goal that ultimately put the game out of reach for UMass coming 12:25 into the third period giving ASU a 3-0 lead.

Minutemen freshman Griff Jeszka would score the lone goal for UMass on the night with 3:20 left in regulation during a power play. Jeska’s goal brought the score to 3-1 and gave the Minutemen enough of a chance to pull Wischow from net and gain an extra skater.

With just 18 seconds left in the game, ASU right-winger David Norris scored on the empty net to bring the final score to 4-1 and continue the now four game slump for UMass.

“It’s always this time of the year where, you know most kids are already at home on break and we’re here trying to squeeze in a couple of games,” Carvel said. “It’s the end of the semester, you hope they’re not looking past it, and you hope that finals aren’t too much of a stress.”

The game started off relatively flat for both teams with neither really establishing much rhythm or dominance at either end. The first period ended with each team only taking six shots. Oddly enough, the Minutemen would go on to out-shoot the Sun Devils 31-22 for the game.

“The last few games, at least it feels like we’ve been out shooting teams, and shots just haven’t been going in the back of the net,” UMass captain Steven Iacobellis said. “But we’re doing our job getting pucks to the net, and now we just have to find a way to get it past goalies.”

The second period started off with a highlight reel save from Wischow, swiping what looked like a sure goal for ASU away with his glove just two minutes into the period.

That save may have fueled the Minutemen at least temporarily as UMass began to generate chances including a moment where senior Ray Pigozzi was left unchecked right in front of the net and had perhaps the best chance the Minutemen saw all night, but was stuffed by Sun Devil goalie Robert Levin, who finished with 30 saves.

Croston would break the stalemate later in the period with his first goal 14:42 into the second.

Sun Devil sophomore Joe Lappin would go on to extend the ASU lead to two midway through the third period making the score 2-0.

ASU did not trail the entire game, while UMass is left to pick up the pieces of its fourth straight loss.

“Obviously that’s something you can see of the course of a season you sort of have your ups and downs, and unfortunately this has been one of our downs,” Iacobellis said. “The attention to detail has not been as good as it has been in the past.”

The Sun Devils will return to Mullins Center Saturday with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at njsouza@umass.edu and on Twitter @nicksouza27.

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