UMass club hockey beats Providence, falls to New Hampshire

UMass club hockey beats Providence, falls to New Hampshire

By Evan Marinofsky

The Massachusetts club hockey team had yet another busy weekend, playing Saturday night against Providence College, followed by a Sunday game against New Hampshire.

The Minutemen (11-2-1) went 1-1 on the weekend, beating the Friars 4-2 but falling to the Wildcats 4-3.

Going into Sunday afternoon’s matchup with UNH, UMass was riding high with a record that had them ranked second in the Northeast division of the ACHA men’s Division II.

The game turned into one that was full of momentum swings.

The first and most important swing was by the Wildcats, as they took a 2-1 lead just under four minutes into the second period when a shot from Patrick Holmes sailed over the blocker of UMass goaltender Connor Walker from the top of the faceoff circle.

UNH gained energy from the goal, dominating the following minutes which culminated in another goal at the 10:34 mark. A shot from the blue line missed the net and hopped back out in front, only to be jammed home by Kyle Scancerella to give the Wildcats a quick 3-1 lead.

In an attempt to stop the bleeding, UMass called a timeout.

“We just needed to slow it down,” said UMass forward Jude Bonavita. “We needed to calm down. They kind of shocked us a little bit there. We just had to compose ourselves and get ready to get back at it.”

At the end of the second period, UMass forward and captain Tony Lespasio took a penalty with no time left on the clock, giving UNH a power play to start the third period.

The Wildcats capitalized on the penalty, scoring on the power play and extending their lead to 4-1 just 56 seconds into the third period.

“The last play of the second period we took a stupid penalty,” said UMass coach Mike DeFazio. “They scored on it to make it 4-1. So a 3-1 lead going into the third is easier to come back from than a 4-1 lead.”

For the first time all season, the Minutemen found themselves down a considerable amount. In response, DeFazio decided to send a loud and clear message to his team in between the second and third period.

Except nothing was said.

“I didn’t give them a message, I stayed out here,” explained DeFazio. “I was pretty upset with the way the second period went so we actually didn’t even go in for the first time all year between the second and third period to hopefully send a message to see if they could figure it out on their own, because we can only do so much.”

Aside from the shorthanded goal they gave up at the top of the third period, UMass responded to DeFazio’s message well.

A power play goal by Bonavita and a goal by Tyler Calos, which came within two minutes of each other, brought the Minutemen within one goal with 13:36 remaining.

While UMass pressed the rest of the way, they were unable to come up with the game-tying goal, resulting in a 4-3 loss.

“We came up a little short,” said DeFazio. “But it’s good to know that if we’ve got our backs up against the wall, we can potentially fight our way out of it.”

But on Saturday night, the Minutemen had a very different result.

UMass began the game with a breakaway goal less than two minutes in from forward Markie Campbell.

“It’s always good to jump out like that,” said DeFazio. “It kind of takes a little pressure off. You’re not holding the stick so tight the rest of the game, so it’s good to get the monkey off the back early.”

Six minutes later, the Minutemen struck again. This time it was Lespasio on a feed from linemate Scott Shorrock.

Lespasio would add on another halfway through the second period, to make it 3-0 UMass.

Providence responded by scoring one of their own, and then another with just under five minutes to play in the game.

The Friar run came up just short, as the Minutemen added a goal with 12 seconds left to secure a 4-2 victory.

In net, Dylan Campbell saw 41 shots, stopping 39 of them.

“We gave him player-of-the-game in our locker room,” Defazio said of Campbell. “Unfortunately, there’s two other good goalies, so he hasn’t had his shot. But maybe he’s making a case now to be a starting goalie for us regularly.”

UMass will now embark on a six-game stretch that won’t see them back at the Mullins Center until Jan. 20.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected]