UMass Hockey welcomed Maine into Mullins Center for a two-tilt weekend against the Black Bears after suffering a road-loss on January 16th by a final of 3-1. UMass came into the series on a two-game losing streak after dropping two road contests against #8 Northeastern and Boston University this past week.
Unfortunately for UMass, the streak continued after it suffered back-to-back 3-2 losses to Maine on Friday and Saturday night. Despite energized crowds from the student section, especially for Saturday’s winter hat giveaway, the effort by the Minutemen wasn’t enough. It appeared call after call, the referees didn’t give UMass a break, calling some incredibly questionable penalties while letting Maine play dirty.
Despite the two losses, there are lots of positives to be taken away for the Minutemen. Freshman defenseman Mario Ferraro had three points all coming off assists to key goals that kept UMass in the game. Sophomore goaltender Ryan Wischow also played very well after getting the nod on Saturday. He allowed a goal on Maine’s first shot attempt just 18 seconds into the game but was able to regain his composure and did everything he could to keep UMass’ hope for a comeback alive. You’ve got to be happy to see that out of a young goaltender in Wischow.
A big blow for the Minutemen however was the absence of freshman defenseman Cale Makar in both games this weekend. According to head coach Greg Carvel, Makar was “banged up” from World Juniors. Although Carvel said, “if it was do or die” he could play, but apparently both one goal games against a Hockey East rival were not “do or die” and he remained undressed. Now this puts UMass in a difficult position to earn a strong seed in the Hockey East tournament in March. The Minutemen sit at 5-10-1 with 11 points and are now in a three-way tie for 8th in the conference with New Hampshire and Vermont.
Overall, UMass had great chances to win both nights, but came up just a bit short. On Friday there seemed to be so many chances to score the game-tying goal, as echoed by consistent oohs uttered from the student section. Unfortunately, they couldn’t connect on nearly all their cross rink passes, and Maine was able to run out the clock to secure a 3-2 win. While on Saturday, the Minutemen sunk themselves in a bit of a hole after falling behind 3-1 midway through the second. However, a powerplay goal by freshman forward John Leonard with five minutes remaining in the game rocked the Mullins Center with energy, but UMass couldn’t take advantage, falling again 3-2.
The Minutemen will be back in action at the Mullins Center on Friday, February 2nd as the team takes on Boston University beginning at 7 p.m.
Box Score (Friday): https://umassathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?id=10303&path=mhockey
Box Score (Saturday): https://umassathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?id=10304&path=mhockey