Last night the Massachusetts hockey team had one of those valuable, grind-it-out wins up in Vermont. It was definitely needed and now sets up a chance to sweep the Catamounts for the weekend and the season series this evening. The Minutemen jumped out to a 2-0 lead before UVM fought back to tie it late in the second. However Conor Sheary’s power play goal in the third ended up giving the team the important 3-2 win.
I won’t comment too much on the game since I was only able to watch via the free video stream from Vermont. However what I saw was another strong performance from Steve Mastalerz who started his third game in a row. I would suspect we’ll see Kevin Boyle in net tonight however. The defense in front of him had another strong game, a trend we’ve seen over the last month or so. The Catamounts were limited to just 21 shots total and never hit double digits in any period. Conor Allen again paced the defense, blocking four shots on the night.
Offensively UMass put continuous pressure on Catamount freshman goaltender Brady Hoffman, who played well despite the loss. The team had 37 shots total. Eric Filiou, filling in for an injured Stephen Guzzo, opened the scoring in the first and played overall in his first game since before winter break. UMass’ two other goals were scored from the point on later power plays; one from Joel Hanley and one from Conor Sheary. UMass ended the night 2 for 6 on the power play. Darren Rowe, who has regained his offensive play going back to the Dartmouth tournament, had two assists on the night. Adam Phillips also had a couple of assists. Although he didn’t end up on the score sheet, Mike Pereira was very active in the offensive zone and led the Minutemen with six shots on net.
Overall the team played hard, bounced back from losing a two goal lead, and ended up with the win. At this point in the season, that’s all I can ask for. The only area I’d like to see them improve on from last night was penalties. They took two penalties in the 3rd period that could’ve led to UVM getting back into the game. The one that especially hurt was Joel Hanley’s slashing call with under two minutes left. Hanley’s penalties taken this season is especially concerning as has 11 and they’ve come at the most inopportune times.
A win tonight would be the first three game winning streak for UMass on the season. It also would create a five point cushion between themselves and the Cats who are sitting in 9th place and out of the playoffs.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Conor Sheary
Sheary’s power play goal five minutes into the third period ended up being the game-winner. Sheary now has five points in his last five games, including three goals.
Here’s the Republican’s recap.
Special teams made the difference in the game says the Burlington Free Press.
The Herald had this piece on Branden Gracel in yesterday’s paper.