UMass’ slow start results in a 6-4 loss to BU on Tuesday

Minutemen rattle off four goals in the final two periods but can’t stage a comeback

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Amanda Powers/ Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts hockey team dug itself a 4-0 hole that it couldn’t climb out of on Tuesday night, falling to Boston University 6-4 at the Mullins Center.

After getting out to its hottest start of the season on Saturday night, No. 9 UMass (12-7-2, 9-3-2 Hockey East) was on the receiving end of a first period onslaught by the Terriers (12-10-3, 8-6-3 HEA) but continued to fight and close the gap on the large lead it gave up early on.

“I think we were a little guilty of being too complacent after an easy win on Saturday night,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. “I think BU was very opportunistic in the first period, we weren’t playing great and it seemed like every chance they got was in the back of the net. I give the kids credit, they fought back, I thought the second half of the game we played pretty well.”

Even after going down by four goals early in the second period, UMass kept the pressure on and gained momentum back in chunks. Anthony Del Gaizo brought the Minutemen back to life potting a goal off a tape-to-tape pass from Matthew Kessel. And, less than a minute later, Bobby Trivigno put the Mullins Center fans back on their feet when he scored a breakaway goal to pull UMass back within two.

From then on, the once-lobsided game transformed into a back-and-forth clash between two offensive units desperate to take momentum away from the other. Logan Cockerill scored his second of the game and the fifth of the night for the Terriers but was immediately answered by a Scott Morrow snipe less than 30 seconds later.

That goal was part of another turn in the game that shifted momentum heavily in favor of UMass in the third period. And after a no-goal call on the ice that sparked a loud reaction from the Mullins Center crowd, Kessel didn’t let that sting linger, scoring a goal on the possession immediately following the call and inching closer to tying the game back up.

“I thought we were going to find a way [to come back] in the third period, especially after we scored the fourth goal,” Carvel said. “The puck was basically in their end the whole period, I thought we were wearing them down, you just can’t dig yourself a 4-0 hole and expect to win.”

That hole came from BU’s relentless first period that saw it jump out to a three goal lead over the Minutemen. Cockerill started the scoring off, sending a pass to the front of the net before wrapping around to the other side of the cage and getting the puck back on his stick for a quick shot past Matt Murray. After that Matt Brown scored on an odd-man rush, and just before the horn sounded to end the frame a puck bounced off a body in front of Murray and found its way into the net. Robert Mastrosimone was credited with the goal on that play.

After a fourth goal minutes into the second period, Carvel pulled Murray out of the game and gave freshman netminder Luke Pavicich his first minutes of action this season. Pavicich didn’t have much to do when he anchored the net since UMass only allowed nine shots on the freshman, who only allowed one past him.

“Every puck was going in the net, we needed some saves,” Carvel said of the decision to sit Murray. “He’ll [Murray] will be fine, he’ll bounce back. He had an off night but he’s a good goalie.”

The Minutemen saw inconsistent play from their defensive line, partly from a lack of communication and partly from missing a major staple of its lineup in assistant captain Colin Felix. The senior defenseman hadn’t missed a game in his career before Tuesday night and Carvel noted that his absence from the backend was “1000 percent” a contributing factor to the Minutemen’s struggles.

The defensive pairings were shifted to cover up for the loss of Felix, with Ufko skating on the third pair alongside Slava Demin, while Kessel skated with Linden Alger to start the game and Aaron Bohlinger in the second and third period. Kessel picked up some of the slack both defensively and by scoring two points but could not negate the early struggles in the defensive zone.

UMass won plenty of puck battles including nearly every third period battle in the corners of its offensive zone, and face offs slanted in favor of the Minutemen as well. Josh Lopina won 18-of-29 draws and Faith went 83.3 percent on his six draws. As a unit UMass finished at 59.1 percent at the dot.

But despite winning those meaningful battles, nothing was able to completely negate the rough start, and now the Minutemen will try and correct their mistakes before taking on Providence on Friday night.

“We don’t like losing at all,” Trivigno said. “It’s not something that will affect how we play next in a negative way, but it’ll be a motivating factor … we’ll dissect the film and look at everything, [Carvel] does a great job showing us what we did wrong and what we need to do better, but we don’t take losses lightly.”

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.