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UMass hockey can’t hold lead, falls to Boston College



Last modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012
AMHERST — When the University of Massachusetts hockey team pulled ahead by three in the second period, many of the 7,678 Minuteman fans, who’d been taunting third-ranked Boston College throughout, had begun chanting “overrated” in unison.

But the celebration came far too early. The Eagles put their sluggish first two periods behind them and stunned the Minutemen, 5-4, when Johnny Gaudreau batted in the winner with 1 minute, 13 seconds left in overtime Friday at the Mullins Center.

Some fans overturned part of three rows of stands in the south end zone on their way out of the game.

BC scored the first two goals of the third period to cut into UMass’ 3-0 intermission lead, but the Minutemen appeared to have regained control when Darren Rowe rifled a shot through traffic to stretch UMass’ lead back to 4-2 with 10:25 left.

“When they scored the first one, we started to panic a bit. As we panicked we started to run around and worry a bit,” senior captain Rocco Carzo said. After Rowe’s goal “lots of guys thought ‘now we have it in the bag.’ We have to keep on going, keep on pressing.”

The Eagles kept their momentum. BC captain Pat Mullane scored with 3:16 left to make it 4-3, tied it 1:10 later to force overtime and had the assist on the winner.

In overtime, Mullane took the initial shot and the rebound caromed in the air, where Gaudreau batted it home. The referees halted the postgame handshake for a moment to see if Gaudreau’s stick was too high on the goal, but sophomore goalie Steve Mastalerz knew it was going to be upheld.

“It was right in front of me,” he said. “I knew it was under the crossbar.”

UMass coach John Micheletto tried to stay positive despite the result.

“It was a lesson for our guys moving forward. The way that we’re going to play is more like what you saw in the first 40 minutes than the last 20,” Micheletto said. “We got flat-footed. That’s not how we want to play. You give players an opportunity to make plays. They’re going to make plays. It’s going to sting. That’s not a bad thing. I don’t like guys to like to lose. At the same time, this league is about moving forward. If you dwell in the past, it’s going to hurt you moving forward.”

The Minutemen (1-1-0, 0-1-0 Hockey East) will play their first road game of the season on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Boston University.

“It’s something to build off of,” Mastalerz said. “We had two really good periods. The third was a letdown. We’ll learn from it and move on to the next game.”

UMass turned an early negative into a positive in the first period. Junior defenseman Joel Hanley was given a major and a game misconduct for hitting BC’s Quinn Smith from behind, 95 seconds in the game.

But the Minuteman penalty kill unit controlled the five minutes allowing just three shots and no sustained time in their own end. BC’s only flurry came with less than a minute left in the power play when Mastalerz made back-to-back saves and froze the puck.

“That penalty kill definitely got our team going,” Mastalerz said.

Back at full strength, UMass carried the play until Carzo put the Minutemen ahead 1-0. After BC goalie Parker Milner turned away two shots, the rebound off the second pinballed toward the right wing faceoff circle where Carzo was crashing back into the zone. The senior backhanded the puck through traffic past Milner with 11:14 left in the first period.

UMass extended its lead to 2-0 on a nifty play early in the second period. From the right wing faceoff circle, Kevin Czepiel centered the puck to Troy Power parked in front of the net. Milner dropped to his knees to protect from a tip in, but instead of shooting it, Power slid it between his legs to Conor Allen, who tapped it into the open net with 16:17 left in the second.

Carzo broke his career-long, multi-goal game drought when he notched his second with 6:40 left in the third period. He gathered the rebound off a Steven Guzzo shot just off the left post and flipped it by Milner to make it 3-0 after two periods.

BC carried the play late in the second and its momentum carried over into the third-period comeback.

“I think we might have gotten too comfortable out there,” Carzo said. “That’s unacceptable obviously. There’s no excuses for that. We have a lot of stuff to work on now. We can’t be doing that going forward. We’re going to have games where it’s 3-2 or 3-1 and we have to close them out.”

Mastalerz made 37 saves.

“I thought he was great,” Micheletto said. “He certainly gave us an opportunity to win. That’s all we ask any of our goaltenders to do.”

NOTES – Minuteman junior forward Michael Pereira suffered a leg injury and was helped to the dressing room, but Micheletto thought the injury wasn’t serious.

“I think he’s going to be OK,” Micheletto said. “I haven’t been able to check in with (trainer) Jeff Smith yet. But from all indications I think he’s going to be fine.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.