The Massachusetts hockey team’s undefeated streak to start the season ended at five games as they dropped a 6-1 decision to 13th ranked Yale. There would be no drama, no comeback in this game as Yale controlled play throughout and threw a blanket on what had been the high-fueled Minuteman offense. The loss drops UMass’ record on the season to 4-1-1 as they begin a stretch of 7 straight Hockey East games.
Sophomore goaltender Henry Dill struggled for the second straight game as he gave up two goals on the first three Bulldog shots. Dill’s teammates did a good job at the beginning of the game keeping Yale from shooting during the opening minutes. But an Austin Plevy interference penalty gave the Bulldogs the extra man advantage and they scored their first goal on the power play just under five minutes into the game. The Bulldogs would score again a few minutes later to take a 2-0 lead, a score which would carry through to the second period. Dill’s night would end six minutes into the middle period when he gave up his third goal on Yale’s 13th shot on goal.
As last year’s best defensive team in the country, giving up a stingy 1.64 goals per game, the three goal lead was more than enough for Yale. To say the Bulldogs controlled play in the second period is an understatement. The Minutemen managed just two shots on Bulldog goaltender Alex Lyon in that period and neither came off the stick of UMass’ star forwards. Defensemen Ivan Chukarov and Marc Hetnik were the only two to get the puck on net in the period. Yale meanwhile would add to their lead with a goal at 14:43 and go into the final period up 4-0.
UMass would do a better job pressuring Lyon in the third, racking up 15 shots on goal in the period. But four penalties taken in the period would snuff out any chance at a comeback. Two of the penalties, including a too many men call, would lead to power play goals for the Bulldogs and they’d take a 6-0 lead into the final minutes. Shane Walsh would grab a goal with just over 5 minutes left to keep the Minutemen from getting shutout.
Yale’s defense and goaltending was as good as advertised, stifling what had been a high-flying UMass offense coming into the game. They zeroed in on Dennis Kravchenko, who had gotten 7 shots on net in each of his previous two games, and limited him to just two shots on the night. Other players were not able to pick up the slack, including Austin Plevy who has not scored since his 4 goal outburst in the opening weekend against Colorado College. UMass has shown they can score against average to below average defensive teams but they’ll have to take the next step and figure how to better approach the better defensive teams. They’ll play a Boston College team that is playing just as good defensively as Yale, giving up just one goal a game so far and allowing just 23.5 shots on goal.
Yale’s defensive performance wasn’t much of a surprise, but their offensive output against the Minutemen was. The Bulldogs scored six goals just once last year and it came against a Princeton team that won just four games. It’s clear that Dill is struggling after giving up two goals on Yale’s first three shots and getting pulled for his second straight game. The good news is Nic Renyard had a solid performance in relief again. While he did give up three goals, two came on the power play. His save percentage at even strength is .977, which is more than adequate. It’s unknown if coach John Micheletto will be going back to Dill anytime soon, which means Renyard could end up playing in each match during this 5 games in 10 day stretch. That’s a lot to ask for a freshman adapting to college hockey, but I’m not sure Micheletto has a choice right now. One thing that would help whoever is in net is if the defensemen work harder at blocking shots. Hetnik and Callum Fryer have done well, blocking 12 and 8 respectively. But others like William Lagesson, Chukarov, Carmine Buono, and Ben Gallacher are all averaging less than one blocked shot a game. That’s not going to cut it.
Any sting from last night’s loss can’t last long because the Minutemen have a very quick turnaround before facing #4 Boston College in Newton on Tuesday. The lessons learned from last night’s defeat can be applied to a similarly talented Eagle team, especially when it comes to defense and goaltending. The short time in between games could end up being a benefit as the players’ thoughts won’t linger on their first loss of the season and can instead focus on taking on one of the conference standard-bearers.
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Shane Walsh
Walsh kept the Minutemen from getting shutout with his six goal of the season during the third period. He also had a team high 5 shots on goal. As SID Jillian Jakuba noted, Walsh has more goals this season than he did in his first two seasons at UMass.
photo: Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics
Dennis Kravchenko was named to the Capital City Classic All-Tournament team.