The Massachusetts hockey team went into Durham last night and did something they have not been able to do very often in recent years; get points. With their playoff lives on the line it was absolutely necessary that they get at least a point out of the game, which they did with the 2-2 tie against New Hampshire. It certainly would’ve been nice if they could’ve held on to a one goal lead with under a minute left in regulation. But I think it’s more important to focus on the fact that they were able to get a point from the #5 team in the country on their home ice and as of this morning UMass is still in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
This was not a very entertaining game to watch in terms of aesthetics. Both teams seemed to have major problems moving the puck and establishing good offensive possessions. It was interesting to watch though as it was two teams battling back and forth in a game that meant a lot to both of them, with the Wildcats fighting for a regular season championship. UMass struck first in the opening period on a Mike Pereira goal after a Conor Allen shot bounced off the glass and in front of the net where Pereira did the rest. After being hot for most of February (Pereira was named a runner up for Player of the Month) he cooled off last weekend, registering zero points against Maine. But the goal last night broke that brief scoreless streak and helped UMass establish themselves in the game. The Wildcats would answer though with a power play goal half way through the game.
It would remain 1-1 until the end of the game. Late in the third senior Eddie Olczyk scored his third goal of the season to put UMass ahead with just 65 seconds left. But that lead wouldn’t hold and with the extra attacker UNH would tie with only 3.7 seconds left. UMass would have the edge in shot in overtime, 5-4, but the game would end at two goals apiece.
Again, it wasn’t pretty. It was a little disappointing not to get the win despite the late lead. But the Minutemen wake up this morning tied in 8th with Maine and holding the tiebreaker in the form of conference wins (eight to Maine’s six). At this point in the season I don’t think you can ask for more than that. Their playoff prospects are still tenuous however. Maine still has a game with Northeastern tonight and while the Black Bears are getting healthier with Joey Diamond and Kyle Beattie back the Huskies are without star Kevin Roy. It’s probably a good bet that Maine will win or at least tie tonight, which means UMass will have to do their best to get some points tonight as well. A Minuteman win and a Vermont loss would even vault UMass into 7th place, but at this point 8th and just getting in should be the goal.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Steve Mastalerz
Like the overtime win over the Wildcats last November, this game was a goaltender duel. However while that game featured the skills of Casey DeSmith versus Kevin Boyle, last night had DeSmith facing Steve Mastalerz. Mastalerz played very well, especially early on when the Wildcats held a sizable advantage in shots. He made 15 saves in the first period alone.
College Hockey News focuses on the superb play of the goaltenders.