February 19, 2012

HOCKEY EAST: UMass stops Maine

BY KEVIN THOMAS Maine Sunday Telegram

ORONO -- The scene kept repeating itself as University of Maine hockey players tried to drive the puck into the Massachusetts goal.

The Minutemen stymied chance after chance.

UMass played inspired defense and got opportunistic scoring to beat the Black Bears 4-1 Saturday night, before 5,092 at Alfond Arena.

Joey Diamond's goal closed Maine to 2-1, 30 seconds into the third period. But UMass' Rocco Carzo scored the insurance goal at 11:44. An empty-netter at 19:05 sealed it.

After being routed by Maine 7-3 on Friday, UMass out-hustled the Black Bears, and out-shot them 23-22.

"They out-played us in every aspect of the game," Maine defenseman and captain Will O'Neill said. "They played like we've been playing. They got to the loose pucks, they won shifts, they won the periods. They won the game."

UMass used both an aggressive forecheck and a solid neutral zone trap to keep Maine away. Goalie Kevin Boyle made 21 saves. The Minutemen shut out all three Maine power plays.

Maine (18-10-3, 13-9-2 in Hockey East), is now fourth place in the league, a one point out of third, and two points ahead of fifth-place Merrimack.

UMass 11-14-5, 7-12-4) moved into a tie for eighth place, which is the last playoff spot.

"We're fighting for our lives," said UMass coach Toot Cahoon. "We're an interesting team. We had a lot of energy leftover from (Friday night).

"I thought we pressured the puck pretty well, and our goaltender stood in there."

Maine goalie Dan Sullivan made 19 saves. He was part of a bizarre play that gave UMass a 1-0 lead 51 seconds into the game.

Sullivan stopped the puck behind the Maine net for his teammates. But when Sullivan came out in front of the net, the puck was stuck in his skate. When it came loose, and Steve Guzzo was right there to stuff it in.

"That really charged them up," Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. "I thought they played with a lot of grit. They played with that desperation you need.

"We had plenty of time to come back, but we started trying to do things too much, individually. One guy skating all the way down the ice, runs out of room and then tries to make a pass.

"We got away from our team game and it cost us."

The Minutemen were outshot 8-5 in the first period, but they limited Maine to few quality chances, even though the Black Bears had two power plays.

Those Maine chances dwindled in the second period. UMass out-shot the Black Bears 13-8, and took a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal at 12:25.

Diamond's goal was scored as he came around the net and shot while falling down.

But UMass regained the momentum and control.

 

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