UMass club hockey falls to NYU 3-2 in first game back from vacation

By Zander Manning

UMass' Kevin Olson using his stick to defend the offense in the Men's Club Hockey Senior Game on January 25, 2015.  (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)
UMass’ Kevin Olson using his stick to defend the offense in the Men’s Club Hockey Senior Game on January 25, 2015.
(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

Trailing New York University 3-2 with 1:36 left to play in regulation, the Massachusetts club hockey team pulled their goalie to give them a six-on-five advantage.

Despite getting three shots on goal in the last minute and a half, UMass (11-9-2) could not score, and the Minutemen fell 3-2 at home to the Violets (16-3) Saturday night.

“I don’t know if it was heartbreaking because it wasn’t ours to lose at the start,” UMass coach Mike DeFazio said. “It sucks we came up a little short because we battled back. It’s a tough one to lose, but not a heartbreaker.”

In the third period, UMass trailed NYU 3-0 after committing six penalties in the second period alone, including two four-on-three situations. The third period, however, was a different story.

UMass stayed out of the penalty box and didn’t commit a penalty. 6:54 into the period, sophomore forward Garrett Torrico scored his first goal since joining the Minutemen after transferring from the University of Tampa last semester.

A North Adams native, Torrico said that getting to skate on the ice was a dream come true after attending UMass games as a child.

“I went to a few (UMass hockey games),” he said. “I always thought about coming here, but I never thought I would.”

Torrico’s goal not only came in his Mullins Center debut, but it came on the power play, a spot that according to DeFazio, he is expected to play solid minutes at going forward for the Minutemen.

“He’s got a natural goal-scorers’ touch and he’s got a good shot,” DeFazio said. “He’s accurate and he handles the puck well. You want somebody at the top who can handle the puck, who can shoot the puck. He’s probably one of the better guys on the team. It was a bit of a risk this early in the season, not having him around, but it paid off.”

“He’s a natural,” DeFazio added. “He’s a guy we like to have around, he’s played at a high level. It’s his second day on the job and he’s running our power play and he scored on our power play, he fits right in.”

After Torrico scored, UMass kept fighting. 14 minutes later, sophomore defenseman Dennis Medeiros scored to make it 3-2.

One bright spot for the Minutemen was junior goaltender Connor Walker. Walker made 23 saves on 26 shots and kept them in the game. He didn’t allow a single goal in the third after giving up three in the first two periods.

“I like to keep busy, but not that busy,” Walker said. “I’d rather stop the shots that lead to saves and keep the puck in their end.”

Torrico credits Walker with the reason UMass stayed in the game.

“We wouldn’t have been in that game,” Torrico said. “He really kept us in the game. He must’ve had 40 saves I’d say, but last night against Keene he played the same way. He’s pretty consistent and he’s always got our backs.”

NYU got on the board first in the first period off the stick of freshman forward Brandon Ritchey who scored from the right faceoff dot off a feed by junior forward Michael Conslato.

Junior defenseman Charles Arsenescu took the initial shot from beyond the blue line and was stopped by Walker, but the goalie lost the puck. Conslato found it and fed Ritchey who ripped a shot and scored top shelf on Walker.

Leading 1-0 after the first period, NYU scored again off the stick of Arsenescu from the right faceoff dot — giving the Violets a 2-0 lead.

11 minutes later, UMass sophomore forward Cam Fisher was sent to the penalty box for crosschecking. NYU sophomore forward John Kowalewski scored 36 seconds into the power play, putting the Violets up 3-0.

Coming into next weekend’s games, DeFazio had a simple message for his team.

“I’m telling them don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “The regular season could be it. We have to have a good week of practice, have to put some wins together or that’s it. Florida Gulf Coast will be your last games and it’ll be nothing more than a vacation.”

Zander Manning can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.