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UMass hockey swept by Arizona State on last weekend of the first semester in 4-1 defeat Saturday

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(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

It was clear the Massachusetts hockey team was fatigued playing its third game in five days right from the drop of the puck Saturday night against Arizona State.

UMass (4-12-2, 2-7-1 Hockey East Association) looked exhausted matching up against the Sun Devils (7-13-0) and fell by a score of 4-1.

With the game tied 1-1 in the second period, the Minutemen were starting to build some momentum in their game but it swiftly dissipated as ASU scored two goals with under a minute remaining in the frame to take a 3-1 lead

The Sun Devils would add an insurance marker in the third to take the weekend sweep and send the Minutemen into the semester break on a five-game losing streak.

“We’re a tired group trying to generate some energy,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “The first period I thought was kind of a slow even period. I thought we started the second pretty well. We went and scored the goal, then we took a bad penalty, and they scored and the momentum swung pretty hard their way.”

UMass scored the first goal of the evening after sophomore Austin Plevy raced into the offensive zone with the puck and found senior captain Steven Iacobellis unchecked in front of the ASU net, who poked it past Sun Devils goalie Robert Levin (23 saves), six minutes into the second period.

“I went to the net stick down, and I think it was Austin who was battling behind the net and found me in a quiet spot in the crease,” Iacobellis said. “I got a pretty fortunate bounce that slipped between the goaltenders legs.”

That marked Iacobellis’ fourth goal of the season, and third in the last six contests.

Just under ten minutes later, with the Minutemen on the penalty-kill, Sun Devils defenseman Nicholas Gushue sent a blazing slap shot past UMass goalie Ryan Wischow to even the score at one.

The ice seemed to have tilted in ASU’s favor after that goal as Louie Rowe banged home a loose rebound goal and 12 seconds later, Riley Simpson deflected one past Wischow to suddenly make it a 3-1 affair.

“When [Iacobellis] scored the goal we had been playing well for about five six minutes in, and I liked the way things were going,” Carvel said. Then we took the penalty and that turned things on us pretty quickly.”

Junior Jake Horton got penalized for holding at 13:23 in the second, which resulted in the Gushue goal that swung the momentum in the Sun Devils direction.

ASU used its fresh legs to spring loose on odd-man rushes over both games and Sun Devils forward Brett Gruber maintained the trend Saturday, scoring on a two-on-one at 7:53 of the final frame, sticking a dagger into a potential UMass comeback.

“We talked before tonight’s game about how we were going to limit the odd man rush,” Carvel said. “That last goal they scored was just our defensemen being active because we needed a goal and they just got caught. We had some tired forwards on the ice that just couldn’t get back.”

Wischow finished the game with 22 saves.

Now the Minutemen will be tasked with rising up after a disheartening weekend when they play in the Mariucci Classic Dec. 30-31.

“It was a tough week with exams, the games and a lot of travel but it’ll be nice going into the break here,” Iacobellis said.

“They need to recharge,” Carvel said. “Like I told them, we know what level we can play at. We can be a real competitive team under the right circumstances, and just tough circumstances this week.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at rames@umass.edu or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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