AMHERST, Mass. - Massachusetts scored three goals in the second period and never looked back, holding on for the 4-0 win over Providence Friday at the Mullins Center. Michael Pereira scored his first goal of the season and also had an assist for his first multi-point game since recording a hat trick against the Friars Feb. 11 last season. Troy Power had his second straight multi-point game with a goal and an assist.
Sophomore Kevin Boyle made 17 saves and recorded his first career shutout for the Minutemen. Jon Gillies made 28 saves on 32 shots and suffered his fourth loss of the season.
What I Saw
- It appears UMass has finally gotten that monkey off its back. The Minutemen have made a bad habit of blowing leads, especially in the third period, all season long. But Friday night UMass kept its foot on the gas in third period and found a way to not only hold on, but build on its lead with a backbreaker 17 minutes, 46 seconds into the third period off an unassisted goal by Power to give UMass the 4-0 cushion late in the game. The Minutemen outshot Providence 32-17 for the game, but put up its greatest shot differential in that third period (12-5), something they have rarely been capable of doing all season.
- As good as UMass was throughout the course of the game, Providence was that bad, especially in the second period when the Friars simply had no answer for anything the Minutemen did. PC made many mistakes throughout the game, turning pucks over, including one that looked like a pass right to UMass senior Kevin Czepiel and derailed a power play, breakdowns defensively and committing penalties. The Friars’ third penalty of the game and first of the second period, which was committed by Myles Harvey 4:20 into the frame, set the Minutemen up for their first goal of the game scored by Pereira seven seconds into the man-advantage. Pereira was assisted by Shane Walsh and Conor Sheary on the play. PC’s biggest defensive breakdown came on the power play, leading to Colin Shea’s shorthanded goal seven minutes, 28 seconds into the second period. Power had brought the puck down below the right circle and had plenty of time to set up Shea, who was breaking towards the net. Shea received the puck with only one Friar on the backcheck to help, and fired it past Gillies to give UMass the multi-goal advantage.
- The power play is becoming the Minutemen’s bread and butter early on this season. UMass has now scored a power play goal in each of its seven contests this season. The Minutemen are now 8 for 36 (22.2 percent) with the man advantage following another conversion Friday. It hasn’t just been the power play that’s been effective, but UMass’ special teams as a whole. The Minutemen’s four killed penalties improves their mark to 25 for 30, good for 83.3 percent. This effectiveness on special teams was especially apparent Friday. UMass scored on the power play and converted a shorthanded goal on the night and completely sucked the life out of the Friars with its effort on special teams.
What I Thought
- After making his fourth consecutive start Friday, and being strong between the pipes for the fourth straight game, the Minutemen may finally be able to put their infamous goaltending controversy to rest. While UMass coach John Micheletto continuously refuses to acknowledge whether or not he plans on settling for one guy in particular, the numbers speak for themselves. With the win Boyle is now 3-2 with a 1.59 goals against average and a .940 save percentage, which is significantly better than fellow sophomore Steve Mastalerz’s 4.40 goals against average and .864 save percentage. Mastalerz has given up nine goals in his two starts, coming up on the short end in each game. But the case for Boyle goes beyond statistics alone. He has shown that he can not only stack up against the challenges of Hockey East, but he can also make the saves necessary to win games, he keeps the mistakes to a minimum. Mastalaerz started two of the first three games for UMass, setting the stage for what looked to be another rotation similar to that of last season’s three-man carousel with current junior Jeff Teglia. But Boyle may have finally put that controversy to bed with his efforts Friday.
- After getting off to strong start early this season, Providence has appeared to have taken a step back in its last two games, including its 2-0 loss to Vermont last Saturday. The Friars picked up where they left off in terms of struggles against the Minutemen Friday. They once again failed to score a goal, making life difficult on Gillies, who has continued to play well between the pipes for PC, including 28 saves Friday. But Gillies’ efforts have been all for naught thanks to the rest of his team’s inability to put the puck in the net. Much of this, as Friars coach Nate Leaman confirmed after the game, may simply be a result of being a young team that is still learning to play on the collegiate level, and simply needs time to come together as a team. With 11 skaters in the lineup for Friday’s game being underclassmen, it’s safe to say that Providence is simply a team still learning how to be consistent and come to play with the same intensity every night.
- While no frustration has appeared to show on the part of Pereira, it’s safe to assume that a huge weight was lifted off his shoulder after finally getting on the board Friday. With him and Conor Sheary both failing to meet high expectations coming into the season, both have finally gotten that first goal out of the way in the last week, and it’ll be interesting to see if either of the two can get on a roll from there. Consistency from those two is what UMass will need as much as possible in order to get wins. Pereira’s line in general, which consisted of Branden Gracel and Power, was definitely on top of its game Friday. The Minutemen’s second line was responsible for two of the four goals, while Pereira and Power also added to the scoring on special teams.
What They Said
“Our past two games we haven’t played real well. We were playing much better earlier in the season, the past two games I don’t think we’ve played real well. (UMass) played well, they moved the puck well, I thought (Gillies) played real well.
“We’re learning to bring it every night and I’m frustrated because we had one game this week. You know, we gave them Monday off, we had three practices and we weren’t close to the battle level needed to win a game in Hockey East.” -Providence coach Nate Leaman.
“It was a good game. It’s funny because I don’t think we were much different (Friday) than on any other night other than we converted a few more of our opportunities and managed our mistakes a hair better. But for the most part I walk out of tonight’s game feeling about the same as I have in a lot of our other games so far, so I’m happy about that.” UMass coach John Micheletto.
What They Didn’t Say
Micheletto had no word on the status of junior forward Eric Filiou other than the fact that he suffered a “generic upper body injury.” Filiou went down in the third period after taking a hard hit into the boards and appeared to be favoring his right shoulder after being helped by the medical staff.
What Else You Should Know
Both teams are off for the rest of the weekend, but resume play next Friday. UMass travels to Maine while Providence returns home to host Northeastern.