Northeastern ices UMass 8-3 as Brandon Montour debuts for Minutemen



Last modified: Saturday, January 10, 2015

AMHERST — If Brandon Montour lives up to the stardom that’s been predicted for him, the 1,080 UMass fans in the Mullins Center Tuesday will be able to say they witnessed his first college game.

There isn’t likely to be much else they’ll want to remember from Tuesday’s game as the Minutemen dug themselves a big hole right away and stumbled into the holiday break on the short end of an 8-3 loss to Northeastern.

The Huskies hadn’t scored more than three goals in a game this season, but they had three on their first four shots, ending Henry Dill’s night early, and led 3-0 after the first period.

“I would like to have not been down 3-0 after outshooting a team 10-4 in the first,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “It obviously put us in a significant hole. It’s hard to come away with positive results when that happens.”

Northeastern reach goal No. 4 less than two minutes into the second. UMass freshman Patrick Lee broke up the shutout with 12:26 left, but Northeastern’s Kevin Roy answered a minute later to prevent a momentum swing.

The Huskies (5-10-1) led 6-2 after the second and rolled to the finish, scoring five power-play goals on nine extra-man opportunities.

Montour started and played on UMass’ No. 1 defensive pairing alongside Oleg Yevenko and played on both special teams. He had two shots on goal, a blocked shot on defense and a penalty for taking a shot on goal after the first period buzzer had sounded, a play that seemed more accidental than malicious.

He had a near breakaway in the third period, but was taken out from behind.

Montour was only on the ice for one Northeastern goal and the Minutemen were short-handed.

“He’s a talented kid. I like having him in college hockey. He’s going to do great things here,” Micheletto said. “We have to play much better around him. Brandon Montour is not going to be able to carry any college hockey team. He’s certainly a significant piece to our puzzle moving forward. I enjoyed seeing him in a Massachusetts jersey.”

While there are still things for Montour to get acclimated to, Micheletto saw an instant improvement in one area.

“He helps us get out of the zone in a number of different ways and when things aren’t going well for us, that’s usually what breaks down for us first,” he said. “Zone exits were much better because of the skill he brings to that area.”

Montour thought it was a good starting point.

“I was a little rusty to begin with in the first period. As the game went on I sharpened up and played a pretty good game I guess. To get that first game in before break was good for me. It was a decent first game I guess. Not the result we wanted.”

He was eager to contribute further.

“I want to have a good showing, but I just want to play my game. The coaches here obviously believe in me and my skill set,” Montour said. “I came in here to do anything I can to help the team. I’d like to improve this team as much as I can.”

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan was aware of Montour’s ability prior to the game and predicted success for him in Hockey East.

“I noticed him a lot. I think UMass fans will enjoy the way he plays. He’s a defenseman, but he jumps up in the play. He’s an NHL skater right now so you notice him a lot,” Madigan said. “He’s a helluva player and he’ll make a quick transition to college hockey.”

The game wasn’t a league game for the two Hockey East schools. UMass (4-12-0) is off until it faces No. 16 Providence in the Catamount Cup at Vermont on Dec. 28. The Minutemen fell to 1-7 at the Mullins Center, where they’ve been outscored 47-21.

The loss spoiled another big game for Frank Vatrano. UMass’ sophomore forward had his eight and ninth goals of the season in the loss.

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


 


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