Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey’s offense breaks out in 6-5 loss to Northeastern

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)
(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts hockey team scored more goals in its 6-5 loss to Hockey East foe Northeastern Tuesday night at Mullins Center than it had in its previous four games combined.

Heading into the final period tied at four goals apiece, UMass (5-20-2, 2-11-1 HEA) allowed two quick goals, one on a five-on-three penalty, to fall behind 6-4 lead with just over 13 minutes to play, but the Minutemen refused to quit.

Senior captain Steven Iacobellis answered the bell and scored his second of the night to cut the deficit to one with 9:53 to play. UMass fought till the bitter end but failed to score once more before the buzzer sounded and the 1,839 in attendance at Mullins headed for the exits.

A team so frequently outshot by its opponents, UMass managed to put more pucks on net than the Huskies (11-10-5, 5-8-3 HEA) – outshooting Northeastern 35-29.

“I saw a lot of good signs tonight,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. “For us to score five goals, I thought we did a great job to create offense and score goals. To score a power play goal was a nice change of pace.”

UMass outshot Northeastern 12-6 in the first period and totaled three shots on two power play chances. Trailing 2-1 at 7:09, the Minutemen ripped off two goals in less than four minutes to hold a one-goal edge at the first intermission.

Not only were the Minutemen putting pucks in and on net, but UMass played with pace, purpose and intensity for the majority of the contest on their home ice despite dropping a pair of hard fought games to Maine over the weekend.

“Because we played Friday and Saturday and [Northeastern] only played Friday, I was a little concerned about the energy level,” Carvel said. “I thought we were pretty good in the first period, but as the game wore on we didn’t win too many battles and when they got a power play it really sucked the life out of us.”

That intensity was displayed first hand by Austin Plevy in the first period. After turning the puck over behind the Northeastern net, the sophomore left winger fought for the loose puck at center ice and drove all the way to the net before lifting a perfect saucer pass for Jack Suter to put past Huskie goaltender Ryan Ruck (30 saves).

“It’s something that coach has been saying since the start of the year,” Plevy said. “We’re building something here. To come out and give one up in the first and everyone stays up and we come right back – guys are starting to believe in it and starting to believe in the process. Guys are starting to feel the energy and we know if we play like we can and compete every night we’re going to start coming out with more wins.”

At long last, the Minutemen finally converted on the power play opportunity. Jake McLaughlin made up for his costly mistake earlier in the game, practically gifting Northeastern’s Matt Filipe a score just 52 seconds into the game.

McLaughlin broke a 2-2 tie with just over seven minutes to play in the first period on the man advantage off assists from Ray Pigozzi and Shane Bear. It was the first goal of McLaughlin’s career and the first the Minutemen have tallied on the power play since Griff Jeszka scored in a 4-1 loss to Arizona State on Dec. 16.

The Minutemen had four players with multiple points on the night, as McLaughlin (goal, assist), Iacobellis (two goals), Niko Hildenbrand (two assists) and Pigozzi (three assists) all got on the scoresheet twice, as the first line accounted for seven points. Joseph Widmar scored the first goal of the game and the first of his season at 2:57 of the first period.

“It’s unfortunate [to lose] because I think this team is starting to take steps,” Carvel said. “We’re competitive and they’re starting to believe that they can win games. In the last three, although we’ve lost them all, I think we were the better team on those nights.”

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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