The good news is despite missing some key players the Massachusetts hockey team did much better against 12th ranked Yale, a team that had beaten them 6-1 earlier in the season. The bad news is the result was another UMass loss as Yale prevailed 3-2 in overtime. The Minutemen overcame a 2-0 deficit and some dominant play by the Bulldogs through the first two periods to stage a 3rd period rally, netting two in the 3rd period and sending the game to overtime. But an ill-timed penalty in the extra frame put the Minutemen at a disadvantage and Yale got the game winner just seconds after the Bulldog power play expired.
Like the game last weekend at Army UMass was without three of their regular defensemen as William Lagesson was with Team Sweden at the World Juniors while Carmine Buono and Marc Hetnik did not dress due to injury. Joining them in the stands was center Dennis Kravchenko who was hurt at the game in West Point. Yale was also missing one of their best players as sophomore Ryan Hitchcock was at the World Juniors on Team USA.
This game was very similar to what we’ve been seeing from UMass for a couple of months now. The Minutemen’s defense was pretty good, even with the missing players. They allowed just two goals in regulation, with one coming on the power play, despite Yale pouring 35 shots on UMass goaltender Alex Wakaluk who was making his second straight start in net.
But again, the Minutemen just couldn’t get anything going on offense. Yale held a 2-0 lead after two periods thanks to a 29-13 shot advantage. UMass was able to make it a game thanks to a couple third period goals, the first a power play score by Patrick Lee after stealing the puck in the Bulldog zone. Dominic Trento would tie it with just over four minutes left in the game after a nice play by Kurt Keats who hit a Bulldog player in the corner, knocking the puck loose and getting it over to Trento. It would unfortunately be Trento who would take the bad tripping call in overtime that indirectly led to the Yale gamewinner.
The comeback against a ranked team while missing some key players is respectable. But as coach John Micheletto said in his postgame radio interview, there are no moral victories at this point in the season. The team was dominated for most of the game. If not for 5 penalties called on Yale in the 3rd period leading to 4 UMass power plays, this game isn’t anywhere near as close as it looks on the box score. Even when UMass took advantage of those power plays and had all the momentum in the world they would register just one additional shot for the rest of the game after the game tying goal. Yale out attempted UMass 66-44 in the game. Faceoffs were 35-24 to the Bulldog’s advantage.
UMass is a mess on offense right now and the possession numbers they’re putting up is not going to lead to a lot of wins. Hockey East play starts again on Saturday and the team needs to make some dramatic improvements if they’re going to make a move up the standings. Right now it doesn’t look like the team is poised to do so. Maybe Lagesson coming back will help. Maybe a few of the other players will be healthy and back as well. But they appear to be a ways away from being competitive in Hockey East. We’ll find out quickly on Saturday against a Boston University team that’s trying to sort out their own roster issues (and just won a dramatic game at #5 Harvard as I type this).
Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Alex Wakaluk
I’m happy to give my POTG to Wakaluk for the second straight game. He had 35 saves in the game and as mentioned he had to be very active in the first two periods. He has come so far he honestly doesn’t even look like the same goaltender from his first two years. There hasn’t been a lot to celebrate during this middle part of the season but the emergence of Wakaluk as an option in net for the Minutemen is certainly one of them.
Matt Vautour from the Gazette has his game story as well.
Lagesson and the Swedes dropped the bronze medal game to the US on Tuesday, but he did score a goal for his team. Lagesson finished the tournament with two goals and an assist in 7 games, with a +7 rating. He is expected to be dressed on Saturday.
Shane Walsh’s 5OT game winning goal at Notre Dame was the top UMass play of 2015:
Stanley Cup of Chowder had this glowing piece on Frank Vatrano and his place with the Bruins.
SBN College Hockey’s Jeff Cox previews the second half for Hockey East.