UMass hockey swept by Maine in weekend doubleheader

By Ryan Ames

Jake Horton took the puck in a game on January 14th against UML. Jong Mam Kim/Daily Collegian)
Jake Horton took the puck in a game on January 14th against UML. (Jong Mam Kim/Daily Collegian)

All season long, Massachusetts hockey head coach Greg Carvel has stressed that wins and losses aren’t his main concern for this 2016-2017 season. Instead, Carvel strives to implement a winning culture by challenging his players to compete each and every game.

That testament was repeated yet again after UMass (5-19-2, 2-11-1 Hockey East) was swept by Maine this weekend in a back-to-back set at the Alfond Arena in Orono.

“As a first year coach trying to establish a culture, I was very proud of our effort tonight,” Carvel said following a close 2-1 loss to the Black Bears (10-13-3, 4-9-1 HEA) Saturday night. “We outcompeted them and outworked them, we just have a hard time scoring goals.”

The Minutemen’s offense hasn’t caught fire lately, only scoring one goal in each of their past four games. A large part of that comes in the floundering man advantage for UMass that went a combined 0-for-9 on the weekend.

“We changed [the powerplay units] around not because we weren’t executing, but because we weren’t accomplishing anything,” Carvel said. “Tonight I thought we moved the puck around extremely well and had our chances.”

In the first period, both UMass and Maine traded quality chances but it was the Black Bears who were rewarded 15:14 into the frame on a shot off the stick of senior Blaine Byron, putting the Minutemen in an early 1-0 hole.

The second period saw Maine double their lead when sophomore Rob Michel unloaded a shot from the right faceoff dot that skimmed UMass goaltender Nic Renyard’s (20 saves) glove, upping the Black Bear lead to 2-0.

At the 10:49 mark, the Minutemen caught a lucky break when junior Jake Horton collected a bouncing puck in stride after exiting the penalty box and beat Maine goalie Rob McGovern (44 saves) high glove side, bringing the score to 2-1.

“I think we were able to gain momentum,” Horton said about his team’s play after his tally. “Obviously we didn’t capitalize but I thought we carried momentum for most of the game.”

The third period was a stalemate despite some heavy pressure from UMass and the 2-1 score held until the final horn sounded, dropping the Minutemen to last place in Hockey East.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Horton said regarding losing both games to the Black Bears. “Getting points is always the goal but I thought we took a step forward as a team playing hard for 120 minutes.”

“We didn’t come into this year thinking we’d win a championship,” Carvel said. “Wins will come, but not until we learn to play the right way.”

Minutemen Mauled by Black Bears 4-1

In the opening matchup between the two squads, Maine skated away with a convincing 4-1 victory Friday night.

The Black Bears took an early lead when Maine forward Robin Hoglund corralled the puck in the left corner and then found line mate Daniel Perez crashing the net, who after a couple of whacks, beat UMass goaltender Ryan Wischow just 3:01 into the game.

Five minutes later, Maine found themselves on the man advantage following a slashing call on Minutemen defenseman Ivan Chukarov, and Nolan Vesey of the Black Bears capitalized after his wrist shot from the faceoff dot found its way through a screen and into the back of the UMass net.

Maine’s 2-0 advantage would hold until the beginning of the third period when Minutemen defenseman William Lagesson unleashed a missile from the left point that beat Black Bear goaltender Rob McGovern glove side to bring UMass within one. Sophomore Brett Boeing had the assist on the goal.

However, another Maine powerplay roughly halfway through the period proved costly as Vesey fed Cedric Lacroix who stuffed the puck short-side past an awkward-looking Wischow to regain the Black Bear’s two goal cushion.

Then at 16:19 of the final frame, Maine forward Patrick Shea tallied one to push the score to 4-1 and put the game out of reach for the Minutemen.

Wischow recorded 27 saves in the defeat.

Next up for UMass is a Tuesday night tilt verse a surging Northeastern squad with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. at Mullins Center.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.