Yale ruins UMass hockey’s comeback as Minutemen fall 3-2 in overtime

Last modified: Saturday, January 09, 2016

AMHERST — With 1 minute, 47 seconds left in overtime, Yale ruined the UMass hockey team’s would-be happy-ending comeback story.

Using a depleted lineup against a ranked team that crushed them earlier in the season, the Minutemen scored two third-period goals against one of the nation’s top goalies to force overtime Tuesday at the Mullins Center. But John Hayden’s turnaround shot beat UMass goalie Alex Wakaluk low and to the left to give the 12th-ranked Bulldogs a 3-2 win.

The winning goal wasn’t a power-play goal, but it came 6 seconds after a Yale man-advantage ended and the Minutemen weren’t able to replace their fatigued penalty killers.

“We did what we needed to do to keep it close and take advantage of our opportunities in the third. I give the guys a lot of credit. We willed ourself to the inside against a defense that plays pretty good protect around an excellent goaltender,” UMass coach John Michelletto said. “We generated offensive opportunities when we needed them and put ourselves in position to get a win against a ranked team. There’s positives to be had, but with the long change in overtime and the tired legs, there’s no way you can take a penalty and not have it come back to bite you in the rear end.”

The loss negated a strong effort by junior goalie Alex Wakaluk, who made 35 saves for UMass (7-9-4).

“He continued to be good and gave us an opportunity to win,” Michelletto said. “He made some big saves when we needed them and there were some times where we helped out clearing out in front of the net. It was another very, very good effort from him as he continues to establish himself as a consistent goaltender at this level.”

Trailing 2-0 after two periods, Patrick Lee got the Minutemen on the board early in the third. The sophomore stole a clearing pass in the Yale end, set himself in the left faceoff circle and snapped the puck past Alex Lyon to make it 2-1, 2:29 into the third.

Dominic Trento, who, in October, had a game-tying goal against New Hampshire and assists on two game-winning goals, looked like he might add another dramatic point to his résumé when he corralled the puck in traffic in front of the net and snapped it past Lyon with 4:03 left.

The Minutemen were short-handed with four regulars missing from the lineup. Sophomore forward Dennis Kravchenko, who shares the team scoring lead (18 points), was out with an undisclosed injury. The defense was depleted with Marc Hetnik and Carmine Buono out with undisclosed injuries, and William Lagesson in Finland playing for Sweden at the World Junior Championships.

Maddison Smiley moved from forward to defense and seldom-used blue-liners Brennan Baxandall and Jake Horton both saw action.

“It’s a different dynamic with different guys in the lineup,” Micheletto said. “It’s good for our program that guys were able to step up and fill in when needed. That’s a pretty important sign for our guys.”

Micheletto said Lagesson could play Saturday at No. 11 Boston University (7 p.m. Agganis Arena) barring any travel complications in his return from Scandinavia. He said the other injured players are all day to day, with Buono being the closest to returning.

Yale, which futilely peppered Wakaluk throughout the first period, broke through in the second when Ted Hart redirected Nate Repensky’s shot past Wakaluk with 15:39 left.

The Bulldogs doubled their edge on the power play just over 3 minutes later. Wakaluk appeared to lose track of the puck in traffic in front of the net and Hayden snapped it by him.

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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