Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass can’t complete comeback in 4-3 overtime loss to Vermont

Corey Thomas nets game-winner for Catamounts

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(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

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The Massachusetts hockey team dropped Game 2 of the Hockey East Association playoffs in disappointing, overtime fashion on Friday night at Mullins Center, falling 4-3 at the hands of No. 9 Vermont.

With under 12 minutes remaining in the third and up by a goal, UMass (16-18-2) looked to be in command and ready to shut the door on the series with a clean sweep. However, UVM did not go away as easily as the Minutemen would have hoped.

The Catamounts (10-19-7) won the opening faceoff to start the extra period, which began 4-on-4, and scored the game-winning goal off the stick of Cory Thomas just 12 seconds into the sudden-death frame, the first of the freshman’s career.

“Very disappointing way to lose that game 12 seconds into overtime,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “But to me, it was a disappointing game overall.”

For the second straight night, the Minutemen found themselves down by a pair of goals midway through the second period and, even though both nights they scraped back to tie or take the lead afterwards, Carvel emphasized how detrimental the slow starts have been.

“Again, we come out without much energy and again we go down two goals,” Carvel said. “Tonight’s game was uncharacteristic for us. We played a team that was fighting for its life and some of the goals they scored were more of us playing poorly than them creating the offense.”

Just as it did on Thursday night, Vermont scored the first goal of the game, 11:04 into the opening period. Ross Colton netted his 16th goal of the season when he fired a one-timer past Murray’s glove hand, just before the freshman netminder could get back to cover the far post.

The Catamounts added another goal to further their early lead just over five minutes into the second period, when Murray fumbled the puck in front of his own net, leading to a sudden 2-on-1 that Matt Alvaro buried to secure his second goal in as many games.

But, unlike the night before when UMass waited until the third period to erase its two-goal hole, the Minutemen alleviated some of the pressure on their shoulders by responding before the game could find its way into the final frame.

At 7:29 of the second period, Plevy took a feed from sophomore Jack Suter that he wristed on net and found its way through the only space that it could, between the post and UVM netminder Stefanos Lekkas’ arm, just 1:56 removed from Murray’s miscue.

With time winding down in the second, Mitchell Chaffee added his 13th of the season at 18:27, evening up the score at two on a pass from fellow freshman Jake Gaudet.

Just as John Leonard scored less than a minute into the third period on Thursday night, the Minutemen came out of the second intermission firing once again on Friday, getting a goal from Austin Albrecht just 29 seconds into the frame on the dish from Niko Hildenbrand.

With the puck up in the air, the freshman made use of his hand-eye coordination skills and batted it over the goal-line, into the empty net behind Lekkas.

“Hildenbrand made a good pass to me and I just came down, I didn’t see the pass so I just kind of walked the defenseman and it tipped up in the air,” Albrecht said. “I just swatted at it and it went in.”

But, down a goal late with its season on the line late in the third period, Vermont would not go away.

At 8:05 of the third, Rob Darrar sent a shot in high over Murray’s moving glove that found its way into the back of the mesh, tying things up at three late.

Neither team could finish on the handful of chances that they saw in the remainder of the period, which ended with a scrum in front of Lekkas that sent Albrecht and UVM’s Jake Massie to the box for two minutes each to kickoff overtime.

From there, the opening faceoff and 12 seconds were all that Vermont would need to get on the board and even the first-round series at one game apiece.

“We weren’t ready to match [UVM’s] desperation and you have to when a team’s on the brink of their season ending,” Carvel said. “Now our team’s on the brink of our season ending, but fortunately I have a lot of faith in this team. I fully expect that we’ll be pretty well prepared mentally to play our best game of the year on Sunday.”

Puck drop for the deciding series finale will be at 3 p.m.

 

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.

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