No. 7 UMass surrenders late goal, ties Merrimack 2-2

UMass had a goal overturned in overtime

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No. 7 UMass surrenders late goal, ties Merrimack 2-2

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

By Noah Bortle, Assistant Sports Editor

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In their first overtime game of the season, the Massachusetts hockey team looked to have netted a game-winning goal, but a goaltender interference call reversed the call on the ice and UMass found itself with a 2-2 tie against Merrimack.

“Merrimack came ready to play tonight,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “I’m not so sure we were ready to play at the right level.”

A minute and a half into the overtime period, UMass’ (7-3-1, 3-3-1 Hockey East) Bobby Trivigno carried the puck toward the net on an odd-man rush. Trivigno put the puck past the Warriors (2-7-2, 1-3-2 HEA) goaltender Troy Kobryn. After what appeared to be a victory for the Minutemen, a review nullified the goal.

With three-plus minutes left in the overtime period, neither team could pot a winner and UMass saw its 15-game home winning streak come to an end.

“It’s unacceptable,” junior Mitchell Chaffee said. “You can’t — especially in our rink, you can’t come out like that.”

Friday night’s game began with some offensive fireworks as a pair of goals left the score tied at one-all less than six minutes into the opening frame.

5:15 into the contest, Merrimack generated pressure in the UMass end. A flurry of shots sent UMass netminder Filip Lindberg to the ice to stop the puck. With the puck uncovered, the Warriors kept hacking away at the loose puck before Hugo Esselin willed it home to give Merrimack a 1-0 lead.

The Minutemen were quick to respond. Just 12 seconds later, a Colin Felix shot was stopped by Kobryn. With the puck left in front of the crease, Chaffee put home the rebound to tie the game 1-1.

After the eventful 12-second stretch, things went cold for both sides as the final 14-plus minutes of the first period remained scoreless. The lull was followed by a scoreless second period in which both teams found themselves inches from a lead.

After a UMass power play, the Warriors got a breakaway thanks to a timely end to Mac Welsher’s penalty. Welsher, one-on-one with Lindberg, fired a wrist shot on net. The puck beat Lindberg and seemed destined to go in, but instead glanced off the crossbar, nixing Merrimack’s hopes of a second-period lead.

Midway through the third period, Matt Kessel gave UMass its first lead of the night. The freshman’s fourth goal of the season put the Minutemen up 2-1 with under nine minutes remaining.

“Matt Kessel is proving to be a difference-maker,” Carvel said. “He’s got four goals.”

Late penalties proved to be the downfall for UMass. A Merrimack power play with 6:47 left in regulation came close to knotting the game at two. However, a right-pad save at full extension by Lindberg kept the score at 2-1.

The stop was one of 24 saves Lindberg made to keep the Warriors off the board and UMass within reach.

“The game should’ve been at least 5-2 without [Lindberg] in net,” Chaffee said.

Another Merrimack power play with less than three minutes on the clock was the breaking point for the Minutemen’s penalty kill. After three successful kills to start the contest, a Warrior goal 24 seconds into the 5-on-4 drew the teams even.

The UMass power play, on the other hand, continued to struggle. The Minutemen went 0 for 4 on the man advantage and created just six shots in their four opportunities.

“Once again our power play had a chance to probably make that a victory,” Carvel said, “and it turns out Merrimack’s power play found a way to tie the game.”

Marc Del Gaizo returned to the ice for the Minutemen in the tie. The sophomore defensemen saw limited minutes but managed an assist on UMass’ second goal.

“He’s involved in that go-ahead goal,” Carvel said of Del Gaizo. “He’s a difference-maker in that regard.”

The Minutemen head to Merrimack on Saturday night for the back end of the weekend series. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

“I’m not real happy about our game tonight,” Carvel said. “We’ll have to be a lot better tomorrow night playing in their barn.”

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @noah_bortle.