Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass club hockey loses three key players to injuries in series vs. No. 1/2 FGCU

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(Collegian File Photo)

As Boston was expecting 8-12 inches of snow on Sunday, the Massachusetts club hockey team was expecting to fly into Boston from Fort Myers after a weekend tilt with No. 1/2 Florida Gulf Coast University.

Instead, the flight was cancelled early on Sunday due to snow, and the Minutemen got in a van and drove two hours across the state to Fort Lauderdale to get on a flight Monday morning to Boston. They landed in Boston at 1:00 p.m. Monday and arrived at UMass at about 3:00 p.m.

“It’s weird [to see snow],” UMass coach Mike DeFazio said. “We were looking for the palm trees when we got off the plane. It’s a nice change of pace for us.”

UMass ties FGCU 2-2 (OT) Saturday night

On Saturday night, UMass did something no other team had done all season.

With three seconds left in the third period, and the score tied 2-2, FGCU was called for icing and UMass was awarded a faceoff in the Eagles’ defensive zone.

The Minutemen (15-11-3), however, could not capitalize and the game went to overtime. After five minutes, the score remained tied at two and for the first time all season, FGCU had tied an opponent at home.

After FGCU (22-0-5) got started early on a goal from defenseman Logan Garst eight minutes into the first period, UMass took the momentum from the Eagles and used it to its advantage.

Trailing 1-0 with four minutes left in the period, UMass junior forward Ted Zimmerman scored to tie the score at one and 12 minutes into the ensuing period, senior forward Scott Campbell gave the Minutemen a 2-1 lead. The Eagles tied it ten minutes later when forward Trevor Mullaly scored.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys … I gave them a ton of credit, they tied the best team in the country. No one does that and that was a huge thing to do,” DeFazio said. “[It] shows them that they are capable of playing with the best team in the country. This is where we need to be, that’s all we talked about and hopefully we can keep that message going.”

UMass freshman goalie Ryan LaCroix finished with 57 saves in the tie.

The game came at a cost, however, as senior defensive captain Alan Haynes separated his shoulder in the first period and played all three periods plus overtime. Senior forward Adam Kmetz blocked a shot in the third period and bruised his knee.

Also in the first period, senior forward Anthony Lespasio was checked into the boards and got stitches under his chin while also fracturing his wrist. While all of the players last all three periods, DeFazio does not expect them to be back for the league playoffs. However, he doesn’t see any of them missing regional playoffs.

“There’s no replacing them,” DeFazio said. “We have to find another defenseman. It’s simply the next guy up. We’ve had a ton of injuries, nothing new to us.”

Minutemen fall to Eagles 5-1 Friday night

Friday night was not meant to be for UMass as it fell to FGCU 5-1 despite firing 41 shots on goal.

The Eagles scored first with a goal five minutes into the first period from forward Eduardo Leon, then ten minutes later forward David Wong made it 2-0.

The Minutemen brought it to 2-1 with two minutes left in the period on a goal from Haynes with four seconds left on the power play, but in the final minute of the period, Eagles’ forward Shawn O’Meara scored to extend the lead to 3-1.

FGCU scored again eight minutes into the second period off the stick of defenseman Michael Haskins, putting the nail in UMass’ coffin and putting the Eagles up 4-1.

With under a minute to play in regulation, Eagles’ forward Joshua Koerner scored on the power play, giving them a 5-1 lead.

The league playoffs are up next for the Minutemen next weekend. The games will take place up in Nashua, New Hampshire. As of right now, its opponent is unknown, but UMass will have to do it without Haynes, Lespasio and Kmetz.

“Our focus is on regionals and to make nationals,” DeFazio said. “It’s nice to win the league playoffs, but it’ s not the end goal.”

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

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