Darren Rowe strikes in OT as UMass hockey takes down UNH
AMHERST — The celebration looked more like something from a postseason game than an early November conference game.
But after three frustrating losses over two weeks, the University of Massachusetts hockey team poured out of the bench in jubilation when Darren Rowe scored on a designed play with 1:52 left in overtime to give the Minutemen a 2-1 win over previously undefeated No. 9 New Hampshire Friday at the Mullins Center.
With the Minutemen on a power play, UMass coach John Micheletto called timeout just seven seconds before the game-winning goal.
“On very rare occasions does what you draw up on that board end up working the way that it does,” Micheletto said. “Fortunately for us tonight, this was one of those rare occasions that it was as we drew it up. ... The back-door play to Darren Rowe was what we were hoping to get out of that.”
The play was designed to have Conor Sheary win the faceoff, a pretty good bet given that he’d won all six in the game before that. He was successful and drew it back to the point where Conor Allen sent it into the left-wing corner to Shane Walsh. Rowe came to the net from the right point where Walsh fed it to him just off the right post.
“Coach drew the play up. He should have got the assist on the play,” Rowe said. “It was the exact play. Walsh made a good pass.”
Micheletto enjoyed watching his team celebrate.
“It was heartwarming for our guys to get a result they deserve,” Micheletto said. “Tonight I was glad to get the two points, mostly just for them. It was nice to get rewards when you deserve rewards.”
UMass (2-3, 1-3 Hockey East) will play at No. 1 Boston College, Sunday at 4 p.m. UNH (4-1-1, 2-1-1) is at Maine, Sunday at 4 p.m.
“Seeing their ranking and that they haven’t lost a game yet and us being the team to knock them off, was huge for us,” Sheary said. “It gives us a lot of confidence. Especially playing BC on Sunday to know that we can play with any team in the country on any given night.”
UNH pulled ahead 1-0 at the end of an otherwise uneventful first period. After UMass goalie Kevin Boyle sprawled to make the initial save on a Kevin Goumas shot, the rebound bounced to the right-wing faceoff circle where Greg Burke flipped it over Boyle with 34 seconds left.
UMass tied the game with 7:39 left in the second. Steven Guzzo fed Sheary racing through center ice along the right-wing boards. He caught the pass a step behind the defense and cut toward the net. He unloaded just as he reached the top of the slot and beat Casey DeSmith on the stick side just under the crossbar.
“Conor recognized that DeSmith wasn’t set yet,” Micheletto said. “He was still coming out of his crease to cut down the angle and Conor’s got such a quick release and it was so well placed.”
Neither team scored in the third period. UMass carried most of the play, but DeSmith made 13 of his 34 saves to force overtime.
“The only reason we had a chance to win was because of our goalie,” UNH coach Dick Umile said.
Boyle made 25 saves for the Minutemen.
“I want to congratulate Coach Micheletto on his first win in Hockey East,” Umile said. “His team played well. They outplayed us tonight and they deserved to win.”
NOTES — UMass won 41 of 64 faceoffs. ... The Minutemen’s three-game losing streak appears to have at least cut into the Mullins Center attendance. After three straight games of at least 7,000 fans, the game drew 4,876. ... Junior defenseman Joel Hanley missed the game with an undisclosed upper body injury.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.