Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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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

Bortle: UMass missed out on key opportunity in Friday’s loss to UML

Late goal sinks great chance for the Minutemen
Collegian File Photo

LOWELL—Defensive errors allowed UMass Lowell to take away the Massachusetts hockey team’s opportunity at a big Hockey East win on Friday night.

With the regular season winding down and the conference’s top teams jostling for position atop the standings, UMass (18-10-2, 11-7-2 HEA) had a chance to take advantage of some fluky results around the league, a waved-off goal, as well as the strong play of netminder Matt Murray.

With Boston University and Providence both suffering losses in their Friday night games and the Minutemen facing off with the River Hawks (16-9-5, 10-6-4 HEA), UMass had a shot at stretching out leads on three teams that all stood within three points when the evening began.

Rather than cash in on the league-wide results, while tied 2-2, the Minutemen gave up a fluky goal in the final 30 seconds to drop into a three-way tie for second place in the standings.

“When you outshoot a team 2:1 and you lose the way we did,” coach Greg Carvel said. “It’s frustrating.”

The game’s clinching goal was a result of two UMass players failing to skate to a puck in the corner and then both Matt Murray and a Minuteman defenseman net failing to stop a shot in front of the jet that came from the boards with next to no angle.

Prior to the goal, Murray had kept UMass in the game, stopping 19 of 20 shots. In the second period alone, he withstood nine shots, including a glove save just over three minutes into the period to keep the game tied 1-1.

Murray hadn’t even started the game in net as Filip Lindberg was pulled midway through the first period after letting in his second goal in as many attempts.

“They had two shots and two goals,” Carvel said of the decision to swap goalies.

The goal would be waved off—saving the Minutemen from falling into a 2-0 hole less than 14 minutes into the game. Even after the call on the ice was reversed, Murray remained between the pipes, almost entirely stifling the UML offense for the rest of the way.

“It’s always tough, you’re cold going into the game, you’re maybe not mentally engaged,” UMass forward Bobby Trivigno said. “Filip gets scored on, you’re not really sure if you’re going in, then all of a sudden you get thrown in there. It’s really tough, I don’t think he did a bad job, I can’t complain.”

After the goaltender interference call kept the Minutemen from a two-goal deficit, it looked as though UMass would turn its luck into a win. The rest of the first period saw only one more River Hawk shot, while the Minutemen tallied 16 in the first frame, including a game-tying goal.

The head-scratching game-winner came as the contest appeared to be heading to overtime. Had the Minutemen held on for those final 27 seconds, they would’ve headed to a five-minute overtime period to try and earn the win.

With a 40-22 shot advantage in the game and a good percentage of the possession battle to go with it, it’s reasonable to believe that UMass could’ve found the game-winner had the game been extended. Even if River Hawk’s goaltender Tyler Wall had continued to stand on his head for five more minutes, the Minutemen would have walked out of the Tsongas Center with a point in hand and second place in Hockey East all to themselves.

Despite missing out on any points Friday, on a night when teams around them in the standings left the door open, the Minutemen have a chance Saturday to respond and create some wiggle room in an extremely tight conference race.

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

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