AMHERST, Mass. – Five different River Hawks scored a goal against two different goaltenders as Massachusetts-Lowell rolled past Massachusetts, 8-2, Sunday night at the Mullins Center. Riley Wetmore recorded a hat trick for the River Hawks, the first by a UML player since David Vallorani did so Dec. 5, 2009, also against the Minutemen.
UMass got poor goaltending efforts from both Jeff Teglia and Steve Mastalerz. Teglia lasted 16 minutes, 26 seconds and gave up three goals on eight shots. Mastalerz replaced him and also struggled, making just 10 saves on 15 shots in his first appearance since his last start Oct. 26 in a 5-2 loss to Boston University.
Doug Carr was solid in net for the River Hawks, making 24 saves on 26 shots. Carr’s two goals allowed both came on a 5-on-3 advantage for UMass when the game was well out of reach.
What I Saw
- UML has struggled to find its scoring touch all season long, but certainly found it in a big way Sunday, scoring eight times despite being outshot 26-23 on the night. The River Hawks clearly brought significantly more energy on both ends of the ice, which helped lead to high-quality scoring opportunities while UMass had to settle for a majority of its shots from the outside. UML scored its first three goals with relative ease while Teglia clearly looked uncomfortable between the pipes. The first goal was scored by Dmitry Sinitsyn on a soft shot that went off the pad of Teglia and right through him to the net. With six players scoring 10 or more goals last season, the River Hawks found a way to get back to what made it successful last season with five different players scoring Sunday, while Wetmore and Joseph Pendenza each had multi-goal efforts. Pendenza’s second tally came shorthanded on a breakaway following a UMass turnover which gave UML a 7-1 advantage at the time.
- Special Teams and discipline, or lack thereof, played a big role for both sides in this one. Both teams committed 10 penalties apiece for a combined 51 minutes of penalty time, including a five minute major and game misconduct for UMass’ Oleg Yevenko for contact to the head 15 minutes, three seconds into the third period. Yevenko’s actions came in response to teammate Anthony Raiola taking a hard hit behind the net in the offensive zone, leading a major scrum that was broken up by the officials before things got out of hand. The River Hawks may have only capitalized once on the man advantage, but they also scored on a 4-on-4 and shorthanded opportunity. In a game full of negatives for the Minutemen, special teams play was the lone bright spot for John Micheletto’s bunch. UMass has scored on the power play in all nine games played this season, including twice on 5-on-3 opportunities Sunday. The first was scored by Michael Pereira to make it 6-1 at the 14:46 mark in the second period, while the second was a goal in garbage time by Rocco Carzo at 10:12 in the third.
- Riley Wetmore finally put together the kind of performance we have come to expect from him. The senior forward got off to a very poor start in UML’s first eight games, scoring just two goals on the year with a plus-minus of minus-5. On Sunday he notched a hat trick and went plus-3 on the night. His second and third goal both came in the second period and were less than a minute and a half apart. Those two goals were part of a strong stretch for the River Hawks in the game when they scored three times in one minute, 26 seconds midway through the second period to take a commanding, 6-0 lead at the time. Wetmore’s confidence was evident throughout the night as his entire line with A.J. White and Derek Arnold was aggressive throughout, especially in the second period. Wetmore put arguably his first complete effort of the season together Sunday and was rewarded for it on the scoresheet.
What I Thought
- After a surprisingly slow start to a season full of high expectations, UML put together the type of performance that may be enough to turn its season around. The River Hawks came into the game averaging 1.62 goals per game and had scored a total of nine goals in six Hockey East games. However, those low marks were shattered completely. Arguably the two biggest reliefs on the part of UML was to finally see Wetmore break through in a big way, and to get the type of balanced scoring that made the River Hawks a force at all four lines last season. One aspect of their game that has been reliable all season long has been the play of Carr, and on Sunday he was finally rewarded for his efforts with some help offensively.
- The decision to give sophomore goaltender Kevin Boyle the night off after five straight starts certainly backfired for UMass. Boyle has been consistently strong all season long, but a current stretch of three games in five days put Micheletto in a challenging circumstance. While Micheletto claimed that the decision to start Teglia was based off his play in practice, it’s safe to say he was pretty adamant on giving the Boyle the night off after he put Mastalerz in the game with his team still within reach, down 3-0 in the first period. The poor efforts from Mastalerz and Teglia only helps solidify Boyle’s role as the No. 1 guy between the pipes. Based on the performances he’s put together lately it would come as a surprise if Boyle doesn’t get the start Tuesday against Vermont.
- While this was certainly a breakthrough game for UML, it appeared to be one of those games where the Minutemen were equally bad. UMass is not as bad of a team as its record shows, but the River Hawks simply took the Minutemen out of their game. UMass relies on its speed and physicality to create chances to score, but tonight it appeared to be a step behind. The Minutemen were incapable of creating any positive momentum, and the offensive opportunities were limited because the players seemed to be gripping the stick a little to tight and were holding the puck much too long to be effective. Much of the blame for this loss should obviously be placed on the goaltending, but when the defensive effort was as scarce as it was Sunday while UMass spends 31 minutes with a guy in the box its hard to single out the goaltending alone.
What They Said
“I think it’s a nice boost to our confidence because, as you know, we’ve been having a hard time finding the net. However, tonight it came in droves and we’re very pleased to get two points more importantly.” -UML coach Norm Bazin.
“Not a good night for the Minutemen. Certainly not indicative of our talent level nor our discipline. We have a much better team than we revealed tonight. Fortunately, we have a game Tuesday so we can move forward from this one as quickly as possible.” -UMass coach John Micheletto.
What Else You Should Know
UMass gets back to work on Tuesday night when it hosts Vermont at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
The River Hawks will return to the Tsongas Center Saturday at 4 p.m. when they host Princeton.