Penalties too much for No. 2 UMass to overcome Sunday at New Hampshire

The Minutemen committed six penalties in their second road loss of the season

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Penalties too much for No. 2 UMass to overcome Sunday at New Hampshire

Will Katcher/Daily Collegian

Will Katcher/Daily Collegian

Will Katcher/Daily Collegian

Will Katcher/Daily Collegian

By Liam Flaherty, Assistant Sports Editor

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DURHAM, NH — In both losses early in the season, a common theme for Massachusetts has been penalties.

Against Northeastern in the first week of the season, constant men in the penalty box kept the Minutemen (6-2, 2-2 Hockey East) out of contention, and on Sunday they faced a similar predicament at New Hampshire, committing six penalties over the course of their 3-1 defeat.

No. 2 UMass staved off the Wildcats’ (5-2-1, 3-1-0 HEA) power play on its first four chances at Whittemore Center, but the fifth was the breaking point, as Max Gildon’s marker on the man advantage at 8:29 of the second period proved to be the difference as the game-winner.

Although the Minutemen own one of the top penalty-killing units in the country, taking so many calls on the road against a conference opponent is detrimental no matter how good your unit has been; ruining the flow of play and disallowing any kind of momentum to be created throughout.

In its first two road games of the season, UMass committed a penalty in the first 10 minutes, which hampered its momentum and forced the team to go on the defensive early in the action, and it happened again on Sunday when, two minutes in, Ty Farmer was called for interference.

“Wasn’t real happy with our start of the game,” coach Greg Carvel said after the second loss of the year. “Taking three penalties in the first period and three more in the second, it’s tough to get any kind of momentum going. We’ve had three road games and they’ve all been eerily similar – not ready to play at a high enough standard leads to penalties, leads to late game desperation.”

With eight days since their last game, it wasn’t the start the Minutemen were anticipating.

“I would’ve thought the opposite–that we hadn’t played in a week and guys were energized,” Carvel added afterward. “I would’ve thought that would’ve transferred over to a solid start.”

After Farmer’s interference, UMass was called for a team penalty of too many men on the ice. They evaded damage on that uncharacteristic mistake, but another mistake came shortly after when Oliver Chau was sent to the box at the end of the opening period for faceoff interference.

“It’s on us,” Carvel said. “[Those] are completely our fault, so it’s tough.”

With several freshmen playing a large number of minutes early in the season, it’s expected that penalties are going to come as they get acclimated to the pace and physicality of college hockey, but on Sunday that wasn’t the case, as returning players represented all of the players in the box.

Even after taking a lead from Mitchell Chaffee’s second-period goal and putting up a fight in the third period, the penalties were just too much for UMass to overcome in the road environment.

“You can’t get the flow of the game, you can’t get momentum, you can’t sustain it, you have to play certain players too much,” Carvel said of the penalty troubles, “and if we had six power plays and they only had two I’m guessing we would have found a  way to win this game today.”

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