Hockey: Minutemen give up two-goal lead, fall to Maine in shootout

  • UMass' Oliver Chau tries to work the puck past Maine's Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi during Friday's game at the Mullins Center. Chris Tucci/UMass Athletics

  • UMass' Carson Gicewicz celebrates after scoring UMass' first goal of the game Friday against Maine at the Mullins Center. Chris Tucci/UMass Athletics

Staff Writer
Published: 3/5/2021 6:48:43 PM

It wasn’t the way the UMass hockey team had hoped to close out its regular season.

Hosting Maine Friday at the Mullins Center, the Minutemen were searching for a win to keep their hopes of getting the No. 2 seed in the Hockey East tournament alive — a spot that would guarantee home ice for both the quarterfinals and semifinals. UMass entered Friday as the No. 3 seed and trailed Boston University by just .02 percentage points.

Through two periods things looked good for the Minutemen, holding a 3-1 lead, but the Black Bears stormed back in the third, scoring two unanswered in the final frame to force overtime. Neither team scored in the five minute 3-on-3 overtime which led to a 3-3 tie.

Maine won the shootout, 2-1, to take an extra point in the standings.

“I give Maine a lot of credit,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “We went up 3-1, then they stabilized the game. They played a really good road game. On the opposite side of that, I was extremely disappointed in our effort tonight. I rarely say that but we were sloppy, we were not prepared, we cheated the game a lot and absolutely got what we deserved tonight. Just unacceptable from our team tonight.”

The loss means that the Minutemen (13-5-4) will likely need a Boston University loss Saturday against UMass Lowell to have a shot at earning the No. 2 seed in the Hockey East tournament, which is set to begin next week.

Carvel said he hopes the loss can serve as a wake up call going into the tournament, similar to the way the loss to Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals during the 2018-19 season fueled UMass on its Frozen Four run.

“I don’t like to rely on wake-up calls this time of year,” Carvel said. “You want to be ramping up. We won four in a row and this should have been the next step but these things do serve as wake up calls. I imagine that’s how it will work, that’s not the way I wish it had played out. It’s past us, I’m past it and we’ll move forward.”

It didn’t take Maine (3-10-2) long to find the back of the net, as Emil Westerlund put one past Minutemen goalie Filip Lindberg just 48 seconds in to put the Black Bears up, 1-0.

The rest of the first period was dominated by UMass however, as it scored all three of its goals in the frame.

Carson Gicewicz put the first one home, knocking in a pass from fellow senior Jake Gaudet to even the scoring just 3:08 in.

Five minutes later, Ty Farmer tapped in a rebound off a shot from Philip Lagunov to put the Minutemen ahead, 2-1. Ryan Sullivan also picked up an assist on the play.

Marc Del Gaizo had the final tally for UMass, ripping in a shot off a dish from Gicewicz to make it a 3-1 game 12:31 into the first period. After that, the Minutemen turned the puck over far too often to generate quality scoring chances.

“They sat back and let us come to them,” Carvel said. “We knew we had to get pucks deep and forecheck and get pucks back but we had a lot of selfish plays with the puck, too much stick-handling, turnovers in the middle of the ice. I thought we didn’t want to work hard to grind out goals where we did for a five-minute stretch there in the first. We were playing really well after getting scored on during the first or second shift of the game, which showed we weren’t prepared to play.”

Following a scoreless second period, Maine’s Adrien Bisson tallied a goal on the power play with 8:06 to play to make it a one-goal game, breathing life back into the Black Bears.

Maine capitalized on the momentum of Bisson’s goal just four minutes later, as Eduards Tralmaks fired in a shot from the point to even the score at three apiece with 4:14 to play.

“We got a little desperate, get ahead 3-1 then back into relaxation mode,” Carvel said. “Just never felt desperation until they tied the game. We were poor with the puck, we managed the puck so poorly. Hopefully, we worked out some demons as we prepare for the playoffs now.”

Lynden Breen and Donavan Villeneuve-Houle had the shootout scores for the Black Bears while Zac Jones had the lone shootout goal for UMass.

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