No. 6 UMass falls to Maine, 4-3, in a shootout

UMass ends its regular season with a loss

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By Noah Bortle, Sports Editor

It looked as if Maine might be geared for an upset. The Black Bears came in as clear underdogs against the sixth-ranked Massachusetts hockey team, but came out guns blazing, scoring in less than a minute to take a 1-0 lead.

The Minutemen had other ideas though. It took them less than 12 minutes to turn the game on its head, flipping the 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. However, Maine wasn’t done, clawing all the way back to force overtime before ultimately winning in a shootout.

“I was extremely disappointed with our effort tonight,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said postgame. “I rarely say that. But we were sloppy, we were not prepared, we cheated the game a lot. We absolutely got what we deserved tonight.”

The game’s opening goal came thanks to Emil Westerlund. Lynden Breen carried the puck into the zone, getting as deep as the goal line before turning and dishing the puck to Westerlund on the left faceoff dot. Westerlund wasted no time getting Maine on the board, firing a one-timer past Filip Lindberg’s glove just 48 seconds into the game.

Just over two minutes later it was the Minutemen’s turn. Jake Gaudet weaved his way through Maine’s defense, getting the puck into the offensive zone. Then, with the puck above the right faceoff circle, he dropped a pass off to Carson Gicewicz. Gicewicz did the rest, riffling a shot past Maine’s Victor Ostman to tie the score at 1-1.

Ryan Sullivan made sure UMass’ goal scoring didn’t stop there. The freshman dangled his way past two Maine defenders—earning a penalty in the process—to work his way to doorstep of the Black Bears’ net. After getting denied on the first shot attempt Ty Farmer came in to finish off Sullivan’s efforts, tucking home the rebound to put the Minutemen on top 2-1.

A Maine turnover with just over 7:30 left in the opening frame granted UMass yet another scoring chance. Gicewicz found himself with the puck in a 2-on-1 near the half wall. The graduate transfer played the puck to Marc Del Gaizo who gathered and writed a shot on net, beating Ostman to put a bow on UMass’ strong first period.

The damage could’ve been worse than a 3-1 deficit for the Black Bears if not for the heroics of Breen. Ty Farmer threw a puck into a sea of bodies in front of the net that featured two Minutemen early in the first period. Just as it looked like the puck had taken just enough of deflection to end up in the back of the net, Breen pulled the puck off the goal line, keeping the score where it was.

While UMass responded to an early goal with a first period onslaught, the second period lacked the same energy. With no scoring for either side, Carvel was even forced to burn his timeout in the second frame with a hope of motivating his team.

“I was sick and tired of the way we were playing and we needed to change,” Carvel said of the timeout. “The first period was okay, but the second period was bad. I used that timeout to express my opinions.”

Without a goal in the second period, Maine managed to stay within striking distance, perfect for making a comeback attempt in the final frame.

Just after the eight-minute mark the Black Bears Adrein Bisson picked the perfect time for his first goal of the season. On the power play Bisson got to a rebound and jammed it home to get Maine to back within a goal.

With just over four minutes left and Maine needing a goal, Eduards Tralmaks provided them with just that. Circling the zone, the winger brought the puck to the blue line and fired a shot on goal. His long wrister had eyes though and beat Lindberg, tying the contest 3-3.

A scoreless overtime frame gave way to a shootout. And with an upset firmly in their sights, the Black Bears wouldn’t be denied. Goals by Breen and later Donavan Houle iced the game, giving Maine a win over the No. 6 Minutemen.

With the shootout loss, UMass’ chances at earning the No. 2 seed in the Hockey East Tournament seem next to none.

“I don’t like to rely on wakeup calls at this time of the year,” Carvel said. “But these things do serve as wakeup calls.”

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