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

Minutemen drop regular-season finale at UConn, 4-3

Slow start dooms No. 2 UMass heading into the postseason
(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

HARTFORD — In the regular-season finale at the XL Center on Friday night, the Massachusetts hockey team came out flat and never recovered from its slow start en route to a 4-3 loss at the hands of Connecticut.

The Huskies (12-20-2, 7-15-2 Hockey East Association), who were unable to qualify for the Hockey East Tournament, came out firing and built a 3-0 at the start of the second before No. 2 UMass answered with three goals of its own in the span of 1:56.

Less than a minute after the Minutemen (26-8-0, 18-6-0 HEA) knotted the score, UConn potted its fourth and final goal of the night to finalize it. UMass came close to tying it in the end but could not pull it off.

According to coach Greg Carvel, the Minutemen were not ready to go from the jump.

“Absolutely uneven game by my team,” he said. “I could tell this morning they weren’t in the right frame of mind. Very disconcerting for me as a coach on March 8th that we can’t be excited to play a game. We were once we got down and found a way to score our first goal, but UConn deserved to win tonight.”

Sophomore Mitchell Chaffee scored his 16th and 17th goals in the loss, while freshman Bobby Trivigno secured his ninth of the season, energizing the Minutemen at the start of the second on the power play.

Following the loss, Carvel was not pleased with the initial effort shown by a handful of his go-to guys.

“We didn’t come to play in the first and we get down 2-0, it’s a tough scenario,” he said. “After the first, we finally decided to play. I had to sit a bunch of kids down because they didn’t want to play tonight.”

The Huskies jumped on the board less than ten minutes in. After falling onto his backside in the corner of the UMass zone, Kale Howarth tapped the puck to the crease where Brian Rigali put a shot on the net.

Matt Murray (5 saves) stopped Rigali’s initial attempt, but Benjamin Freeman swooped in and buried it.

Ten minutes later, on the penalty kill, UConn took advantage of a costly turnover and doubled its lead.

Racing down the ice and crossing the blue line on a 2-on-1, Rigali fumbled the puck before settling it down and firing a shorthanded shot that tipped off a stick in front and into the mesh behind Murray.

Lindberg (7 saves) replaced Murray to start the second period, but things stayed more or less the same.

Trailing 2-0, UMass could not stay out of its own way. After Makar turned it over in the slot, Ruslan Iskhakov picked up the loose puck and shot a laser past Lindberg’s glove into the top right corner.

After being outplayed for the first 38 minutes, the Minutemen came alive at the end of the second.

On the power play as a result of Trivigno’s second drawn-call, he took a pass from Jacob Pritchard at the net-front and beat Tomas Vomacka (33 saves) to put UMass on the board nearing the end of the frame.

But with time ticking down, the Minutemen cut the deficit to one entering the third period. Holding the puck at the blue line, Marc Del Gaizo put a shot on net that Chaffee pushed through Vomacka’s legs.

UMass wasn’t done just yet, however, and feeding off its late second-period surge, Chaffee came out 45 seconds into the third and tied the game 3-3, circling the net and wrapping it around Vomacka’s pads.

With Brad Arvanitis in net for the third, who had not seen live-action all season until Friday night, the Huskies found the back of the net on their first shot against the sophomore goalie to build a late edge.

The Minutemen scrambled to knot it up at four throughout the rest of the third period but to no avail.

“[We] tie the game up in the third, the next shots in the back of our net,” Carvel said following the road loss, “and then we played desperate hockey for the rest of the third period — couldn’t find a way to win.”

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

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