UMass club hockey’s strong defensive first half not enough to hold off Penn State

Minutemen keep puck out of net well through first 30 minutes

Kayla+Wong+%2F+Daily+Collegian

Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Mike Maynard, Collegian Staff

Coming out of the first period with no goals allowed is how every team wants to start a game. The Massachusetts men’s club hockey team did just this and held a shutout through half of the second period as well. The Minutemen (11-6) kept the game within reach and were tied until the very end of the contest, allowing a goal with 20 seconds left on the clock.

The late game score for the Nittany Lions (8-2) came off a loose puck near the blue line that both teams were fighting over. After being released from the pile up of sticks the puck found its way open into the deep slot and then shortly after, into the back of the net.

There was an emphasis on keeping pucks away from the net all night for the Minutemen and they were successful in doing so through the first 30 minutes. Goaltender Ryan Dailida had a solid night in net overall, allowing a few goals but playing the puck well and ending with 30 saves.

Penn State’s offense flipped the script on UMass and put up three goals in the second half of Saturday night’s contest. The aggression added on the forecheck as time went on caught the Minutemen off guard and led to multiple scoring chances.

The two earlier goals against UMass were both hard shots from the point, coming from turnovers and extended time in the defensive zone. The Minutemen struggled to break the puck out after the mentality change by their opponents.

The penalty kill for UMass was put to the test on four different occasions with one being for five minutes due to a major penalty. The Minutemen’s defense held strong and allowed zero goals with someone in the box.

UMass was strong defensively at the blue line, forcing the Nittany Lions to take deep shots and not allowing easy entrance into the zone. Rebounds were corralled successfully for the most part and were used to conduct quick breakouts on multiple occasions.

Blocked shots and passes were a recurring theme for the Minutemen. Constant pressure in the defensive zone and active sticks by UMass led to a frequent amount of missed opportunities for Penn State.

The Minutemen made sure to hustle on the back check and stopped multiple odd man rushes for the Nittany Lions. The UMass forwards were aware and got back to cover a man after losing the puck on the other end.

A late goal can put a damper on the rest of the game, but the Minutemen showed that they can play defensive hockey up and down the roster. Building off that fact will be important in the search of a win.

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mike_maynard_.