Amherst, Mass. - Michael Pereira scored two goals and two assists to lead Massachusetts to a convincing, 5-1 win over Boston University on Friday night at the Mullins Center.
Having big nights along with Pereira were linemates Branden Gracel and Conor Sheary, finishing with a goal and assist apiece.
Gracel got UMass on the board first with a goal 17 minutes, 21 seconds into the first period from the slot following a nice feed from Pereira on the odd-man rush. Kevin Czepiel scored the Minutemen’s second goal at 18:30 of the second period after redirecting a slapshot from Mike Busillo.
UMass proceeded to pour it on with three goals in the final period of play, including a shorthanded tally by Pereira at 11:03 to make it 5-0.
Ben Rosen scored the Terriers only goal of the night at 15:38 of the third with the game well out of reach.
Goaltender Kevin Boyle finished with 19 saves in his first start since Jan. 11. BU’s Sean Maguire was just a strong, if not better, but didn’t get the same defensive support as his counterpart.
With the loss and a New Hampshire win, the Terriers fall to third in the conference standings and now sits 15th in the Pairwise. UMass remains seventh in Hockey East with the win.
What I Saw:
- Boyle got the nod for the first time since Jan. 11 in a 5-4 loss to Providence, with fellow sophomore Steve Mastalerz starting the last four, and showed no signs of rust. The sophomore made some big saves in the first two periods, including a big one with just over four minutes remaining in the first. Evan Rodrigues had a nice breakaway opportunity and tried to beat him blocker side with the backhand, but Boyle made the save with his blocker hand then secured it with the glove. It was shortly after that big save that UMass broke the scoreless tie and seized momentum from there. Boyle was also effective by making saves with the pads and secured the puck well in order to prevent second-chance opportunities.
- Overshadowing the impact that Boyle had on the game was the play of the first line of Pereira, Sheary and Gracel, who finished plus-5, plus-4 and plus-3, respectively. The trio accounted for four of the Minutemen’s five goals on the night, and were responsible for all three third period goals. The line overwhelmed the Terriers with its speed, constantly bringing the puck deep into the BU zone and forcing Maguire to make an array of difficult saves. They complement one another well with Gracel’s ability to finish at the net along with Sheary and Pereira’s ability to facilitate and create scoring chances. This may be one of the fastest lines in Hockey East, and it became clear as it exposed a struggling BU defense.
- No matter what five skaters Jack Parker threw out there, it appeared as if the Terriers simply couldn’t do anything right. Outside of the obvious statistic of being outshot 28-20 for the game, and 11-1 in the second period alone, BU just didn’t seem to adjust to the speed of the game very well. The Terriers were slow on defense, had poor puck movement and continuously turned the puck over both in the neutral zone and the offensive zone, giving UMass the odd-man rush and setting up scoring chances.
What I Thought:
- For those who know and follow UMass even the slightest bit, the goaltending controversy is something you are all well aware of. After Mastalerz put together four-consecutive solid outings, including a 5-2 win at Boston College Jan. 18, it was expected that Micheletto would continue to ride the hot hand. Instead, he went with Boyle after three weeks without a start, and the fresh legs got the job done in a big win. It was Boyle that was carrying the load through November and December while he was playing well, and Mastalerz and third-stringer Jeff Teglia were battling injuries. Watching both Boyle and Mastalerz go through their share and hot streaks and slumps, it’s fair to say that the two-goalie system may be the Minutemen’s best bet as they try to make a push here in the last couple months of the season. On a good night, either netminder can give UMass a chance to win, especially with such good shot-blockers in front of them. But Micheletto’s should stick to his guns and go with the hot hand.
- Maguire didn’t deserve the numbers he ended up with whatsoever. He was effective between the pipes for most the of the night, and made a bunch of key saves while dealing with numerous UMass forwards in front of the net all game long. He got no support on either end, but was the only reason why the Terriers were in this game for the first two periods, and shouldn’t have his chance to start in Monday’s Beanpot revoked because he allowed five goals. The Minutemen had chances to make the game much more lopsided than 2-0 after the second period, but Maguire made numerous big saves despite facing constant pressure. Parker said after the game that Maguire was the only player that he couldn’t fault for the loss, and went as far as to say that he had a better game than Boyle.
- There was nothing more frustrating to watch out there than BU on the power play. While both teams came up empty on the man advantage, and gave up shorthanded goals in the process, the Terriers were particularly ineffective. They had three power-play chances in the second period, five for the game, and failed to even get a shot on goal. Pereira’s shorthanded tally came courtesy of a poor defensive effort as the junior took it upon himself to work his way into the slot and beat Maguire despite being down a man. The power play troubles have been evident for some time now, and was something Parker pointed to as an area that needs some serious work if BU hopes to make a run.
What They Said:
“I was real happy with the way our guys took pucks away tonight. It’s probably a good example of how we want to play, and execute, and what our generally philosophy is: minimize opportunities against by trying to posses the puck and attack as much as you can when you don’t have it.” -UMass coach John Micheletto
BU coach Jack Parker said after the game that he and the rest of the team was informed of freshman forward Wesley Myron’s decision to leave the team on Thursday because we has unhappy with his playing time. Parker said Myron has hopes of signing a professional contract in the near future, and hopes the best for him.
“(Myron) was very unhappy all year. He felt he should’ve been on the first line. He thought he wasn’t getting what he wanted out of this and he played like it.” -Parker
What Else You Should Know:
UMass is done for the weekend and will resume play next Friday at the Mullins Center against Northeastern.
BU plays Monday at 5 p.m. for the first round of the Beanpot at TD Garden.