UMass erases five-goal deficit to earn a tie in Hockey East opener



Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2015

AMHERST — Never has a tie felt more like a win for the UMass hockey program.

Late in the second period with the Minutemen down five goals to New Hampshire, a handful of student fans picked up their jackets and headed for the exits. Despite the margin, most stayed and enjoyed one of the most memorable regular season games in program history.

The Minutemen scored five unanswered goals capped by Dominic Trento’s power-play strike with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left to earn a 6-6 tie Friday. It’s believed to be the team’s biggest comeback since the program was reinstated 22 years ago.

“Clearly I like our team a lot,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “I like the makeup. I like our approach. I like our focus. I like our resolve. A lot of those things were put on display over the better portion of the night.”

For more than half the game, the spark that was created by the Minutemen’s three wins to start the season appeared to have been extinguished.

The uprising started slowly. Micheletto’s decision to pull sophomore goalie Henry Dill for freshman Nic Renyard seemed to ignite his team down 6-1.

Ray Pigozzi scored late in the second period and Anthony Petrella added a goal 3:03 into the third to make it 6-3.

The Mullins Center came to life when Dennis Kravchenko’s laser beam from the high slot went just under the cross bar to make it 6-4 with 11:54 left. From there, the Wildcats looked worried as UMass continued surging.

“After that it was like ‘we’re going to get it,’” Trento said. “Momentum had a white jersey on today in that third period. We had a lot of confidence in each other.”

With UNH killing a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty, Kravchenko fed a pass across the slot to Shane Walsh, who tucked it home with 5:12 left to make it 6-5.

Another sloppy line change earned UNH another too-many-men call with 3:11 left. Both teams already had a man in the box giving UMass a 4-on-3 power play. Working just off the left post, Trento was looking for a chance to redirect when Maddison Smiley wound up from the point. The sophomore got his stick on Smiley’s shot and deflected it by UNH goalie Danny Tirone to force overtime.

“We stick around after practice and work on that exact thing,” Trento said. “I just try to get in front of it. Fortunately it hit my stick and we got the goal there.”

Neither team got a good look in the extra five minutes.

“Give them credit for coming back,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “Disappointing on our part how we handled the third period. Some poor (line changes) by us to give up the last two goals.”

UMass (3-0-1, 0-0-1 Hockey East) has outscored opponents 13-2 in the third period this season.

After the teams traded early goals to make it 1-1, UMass freshman Ryan Badger’s shot got behind Tirone, but it didn’t cross the goal line.

As the lights flashed and Gary Glitter’s celebratory anthem “Rock & Rock” played over the Mullins Center loud speaker, UNH started the break out of its end.

At the other end Tyler Kelleher fed Andrew Poturalski, who beat Dill to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. The swing seemed to derail the Minutemen. UNH scored again 17 second later.

Things got worse in the second period. Colin McDonald stripped Minuteman freshman defenseman Carmine Buono in the Minuteman zone and fired the puck toward the net. Dill slowed the shot, but didn’t stop it. The Mullins crowd of 3,636 let out a collective groan as the puck dribbled slowly just inside the right post to make it 4-1.

The Wildcats extended their lead with two more goals to make it 6-1 with 5:05 left in the second.

Renyard made eight saves in relief of Dill, who had 11 saves on 17 shots.

“I’m awfully proud of what we were able to accomplish in the third period,” Micheletto said. “But we certainly know that on balance there are things we need to be better at to come away with two points instead of one.”

Trento agreed.

“It’s not satisfying,” Trento said. “We would have liked to have had a better start and not have to do that. But it definitely feels good. We would have liked to come out with a W, but it’s definitely a good tie.”

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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