Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

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

UMass falls in defensive one goal game to Maine

Missed opportunities plague the Minutemen throughout
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2024)

The Massachusetts hockey team suffered a tight 1-0 defeat to the University of Maine Saturday night. Strong and aggressive defense from the Black Bears (17-5-2, 9-4-1 Hockey East) kept the Minutemen (14-7-3, 7-5-2 HEA) on edge throughout the night.

The Maine defense seemed to give up its first goal of the contest in the second period off the stick of UMass’ Michael Cameron. The sophomore forward found the back of the net, putting one past goaltender Albin Boija.

The celebration from the Minutemen fans in the Mullins Center was short-lived as the referees reviewed the play and found that UMass was offsides, and the goal was reversed.

“I thought we were building momentum, and then that goal, if it would’ve counted, I think would’ve really, you know, maybe that leads to a few [goals],” head coach Greg Carvel said.

A few more chances came for the Minutemen shortly after the no-goal, but nothing that lit the lamp. A breakaway for Aydar Suniev was maybe the best opportunity that came during the game, but Boija made a great play with his glove to keep UMass off the board.

Even while having possibly its best period of the night, UMass was still outshot by Maine 9-7 in the second. The 16 combined shots didn’t tell the whole story, however, with both sides having multiple missed shots and opportunities.

“Shots don’t matter,” Carvel said. “Scoring chances matter, and we created enough, we just couldn’t put them in the back of the net. Give [Boija] credit, he played well, but I think we missed the net more than we hit him.”

The Maine penalty kill was flawless on Saturday, going 3-3 in keeping UMass off the board. Its aggressive defensive movement created turnovers and wide shots during the man advantage.

Michael Hrabal did his best to keep the Minutemen in the game throughout all 60 minutes, making multiple saves to keep the score within reach after giving one goal up early on.

“I thought [Hrabal] was moving really well, he made some big saves to keep [the deficit] at one,” Carvel said. “… The last three games we’ve given up two goals or less and that’s a big part, is Michael.”

The first period was mostly dominated by the Black Bears, controlling possession throughout and keeping the Minutemen out of the offensive zone.

Maine produced on offense too on Saturday, scoring just over a minute into the contest, quickly taking the wind out of UMass’ sails. Brandon Chabrier was the man who got the lone goal of the night, flying in and stunning the Mullins Center just 1:16 into the game.

The shot totals from the first 20 minutes of game time told the story of how things went. The Black Bears had over triple the Minutemen’s shots, with 11 and 3, respectively.

“We created a lot of chances that our guys just didn’t hit the net,” Carvel said. “I heard the glass a lot tonight.”

The biggest part of what gave Maine success was the effectiveness of its forecheck. UMass struggled to break the puck out of the defensive zone throughout, with constant pressure on its defense.

The third period was more of the same for both sides, with only seven total shots combined between the two. A few late chances with an empty net for the Minutemen went wide or were blocked down, leaving UMass at zero goals on the night.

UMass has a chance for redemption coming up on Friday, Feb. 9 when it travels to Storrs Connecticut to take on the UConn Huskies. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

“[Maine’s] one of the best teams in the country, and we’re right there,” Carvel said. “We’re not far off.”

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

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