UMass falls to Quinnipiac 2-1 Saturday night

A lack of desperation and scoring cost the Minutemen in the end

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UMass falls to Quinnipiac 2-1 Saturday night

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Evan Marinofsky, Collegian Staff

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Saturday night had the perfect recipe for the Massachusetts hockey team to lose at home.

There were roughly 20 kids occupying the seats in the typically rowdy student section, as Thanksgiving break was still in effect. For the first time in a while, noise was hard to come by at the Mullins Center.

The game itself lacked pace and excitement, and it showed in the lack of goals on the board, as Quinnipiac edged out the Minutemen (9-4-1, 4-3-1 Hockey East) 2-1 on Saturday night.

No. 10 UMass coach Greg Carvel was especially displeased with his team’s showing to start.

“I thought we started very poorly,” Carvel said. “Quinnipiac is a very well-coached team and they obviously after last night had a lot more desperation in their game than we did to start. That first period was very poor on our part.”

After a sub-par opening 20 from the Minutemen and a back-and-forth first half of the second period, Zach Metsa threw a puck towards the middle of the UMass offensive zone. That’s where Desi Burgart corralled the pass and tossed it towards the net. Nick Jermain tipped it past a sprawled-out Filip Lindberg.

With the energy low in the Mullins Center, UMass actually injected some life into the place when it drew a penalty at the tail-end of the second period, which put it on the advantage at the start of the third.

But the Minutemen were stopped by the Bobcats (7-7-1, 2-3-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) and roughly four minutes later, Quinnipiac extended its lead to 2-0, as Skyler Brind’Amour dished a pass across to Alex Whalen who fired a one-timer past Lindberg.

“[It] was a complete breakdown by us,” Carvel said of Quinnipiac’s second tally.

UMass spent the final 14 minutes of the third period pushing for a goal, and with 2:29 left, it finally got one on the board, as John Leonard ripped home a pass from Jack Suter to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Carvel pulled Lindberg in favor of the extra skater with under two minutes to play and when he got a whistle with 41.7 seconds left, he used his timeout to plan how the Minutemen would tie the game.

The energy in the Mullins Center shot up, as they debuted a “noise meter” for the first time this season to get the UMass faithful on their feet.

But as much pressure as the Minutemen put on the Bobcats, they just couldn’t put another one past goalie Keith Petruzzelli, as the final buzzer sounded and Quinnipiac became the first team to beat UMass on home ice since UMass Lowell on Jan. 4.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s been a long time in this building since we lost a game,” Carvel said. “Hopefully we’ll learn and move on.”

The Minutemen were playing without captain Niko Hildenbrand, as well as their top defenseman Marc Del Gaizo and first-line center Jake Gaudet.

It’s been quite a long time since UMass has been able to roll out a full lineup.

“Ideally, we start getting some bodies back,” Carvel said. “That’s the one thing that keeps me optimistic is that we haven’t had a full lineup all year. To get Gaudet and Marc Del Gaizo back would be nice additions and to get Niko and just everybody healthy, it’d be nice to have a full complement.”

With the injuries, UMass rolled out some new looks throughout their forward lines. Mitchel Chaffee joined Suter and Leonard on their line, while Jeremy Davidson joined Philip Lagunov and Bobby Trivigno on the second line.

“The first two lines were new looks and obviously the whole team didn’t play well,” Carvel said of the shuffled top-six. “Neither of those two lines played particularly well either.”

But despite all of that, the UMass head coach summed up Saturday night’s efforts best after the game.

“We just didn’t have that juice tonight.”

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @emarinofsky.