Slow start dooms UMass hockey Tuesday night

Slow start dooms UMass hockey Tuesday night

By Ryan Ames

Playing its fourth game in a seven-day span, with three of those games being held away from the friendly confines of the Mullins Center, the Massachusetts hockey team couldn’t overcome a lethargic start in its 2-1 loss to Boston College Tuesday night.

The Eagles (12-9-3, 12-4-0 Hockey East Association) scored a power play goal from defenseman Jesper Mattila at 12:17 of the first period and never looked back for the remainder of the frame as BC recorded 10 shots, as opposed to just five for UMass (11-12-1, 5-8-1 HEA), in a period that could’ve been much worse for the Minutemen.

“I thought in the first period we were very fortunate to come away only down by a goal,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “That was easily our worst period of hockey this year.”

While the Minutemen only had five shots in the opening period, BC netminder Joseph Woll (20 saves) barely had to exert himself at all as UMass’ shots came mostly from the perimeter, with no real chance of hitting the mesh.

The Minutemen struggled to find space in the Eagles defensive zone in the first and Carvel felt his team was a little too awe-struck from the drop of the puck.

“The problem with my team being as young as they are, and lacking leadership and veteran players, is we come into places like this against good hockey teams and we’re a little too respectful and we didn’t compete one ounce in the first period,” said Carvel. “The first period it was men against boys.”

The second and third period saw UMass show the fight it was missing in the first 20 minutes with freshman John Leonard tying the game 4:07 into the second stanza, and the Minutemen controlling much of the pace for the final period, but it was too little too late as BC fended off the attack and skated away with the victory.

“We came out a little slow,” freshman Matt Murray said. “They took it to us a little bit in the first period, but I feel like we bounced back in the game. It could’ve gone a lot differently had we played a full 60 (minutes).”

In his third consecutive start, Murray showed glimpses of his early-season-self, making 27 saves against a traditionally tough matchup in the Eagles, but also suffered from the slow start as Mattila’s goal snuck past his glove in a goal himself and Carvel would’ve liked back.

“Matt was real good other than that one goal, he made some big saves,” Carvel said. “We wanted to give him some games in a row to allow him to get some confidence.”

Despite the heavy workload as of late, Murray didn’t feel the compacted schedule contributed to Minutemen’s less-than-stellar start.

“No I don’t think so. I think our legs were solid. We were only on the ice for about 40 minutes the other day, so we had a lot of time to recoup and I think we just got to come out on the road next game and make sure that all of our energy is going to be built from within,” Murray said.

This predominantly young UMass bunch has had its share of teachable moments this season and while Carvel admitted he wishes these instances would be resolved by now, the Minutemen don’t have much of a choice but to take Tuesday’s defeat at Conte Forum as another game to grow from.

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