UMass hockey can’t complete comeback against BU after falling behind big early

  • UMass fans heckle Boston University defensman Alex Vlasic on Tuesday at the Mullins Center. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS—

  • UMass freshman defenseman Scott Morrow kept the Minutemen in striking distance against Boston University on Tuesday with a second-period goal at the Mullins Center. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass captain Bobby Trivigno ignited the Mullins Center crowd with a breakaway goal in the second period against Bosotn University on Tuesday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass freshman goalie Luke Pavicich made his regular-season debut in the second period against Boston University on Tuesday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS—

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2022 11:16:18 PM
Modified: 1/25/2022 11:15:06 PM

AMHERST – Offensive fireworks greeted the UMass student population’s return to the Mullins Center.

Ten goals lit the lamps, but it wasn’t the way the ninth-ranked Minutemen wanted to welcome their peers back to campus, as Boston University outlasted them 6-4 on Tuesday. The 10 combined goals were the most in a UMass game since Feb. 12, 2019, a 12-goal affair also against the Terriers.

“We were a little guilty of being complacent after an easy win Saturday night,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “If we start games better, we’ll be in good shape. (Tuesday), we didn’t start very well.”

The Minutemen (12-7-2, 9-3-2 Hockey East) pounced on Northeastern on Saturday, putting away four goals in the first period. BU (12-10-3, 8-6-3) flipped the script in Amherst.

BU captain Logan Cockerill gave the Terriers a 1-0 lead 11:03 in. Linemate Max Kaufman, a Vermont transfer, worked the puck behind the net and found Cockerill on the back side of the goal below the circle, where he beat Matt Murray glove side. Ty Amonte also received an assist on the play.

UMass’ Ty Farmer was whistled for interference with 5:11 remaining in the first. Eric Faith created a shorthanded chance on the breakaway, then Garret Wait drew an interference call against the Terriers’ Domenick Fensore 55 seconds into the man advantage. The Minutemen controlled the initial stretch of 4-on-4 until a turnover gave BU’s Matt Brown a 2-on-1 breakaway. He converted the goal himself to make it 2-0 with at 16:49.

“To start so well one night and then see the opposite, I think that determines the game. When we start well, we usually carry it throughout the game,” Carvel said. “When we don’t start well, we’re inconsistent through the game.”

The Terriers extended their lead to 3-0 in the first period’s dying moments. Robert Mastrimone pounded home a short attempt form Wilmer Skoog and Matt Brown with 7.5 seconds left.

“We weren’t playing great,” Carvel said. “It seemed like every chance they got was in the back of the net.”

It got worse before it got better. UMass’ Reed Lebster went to the box for tripping 1:21 into the second. The Minutemen killed the penalty, but Ethan Phillips made it 4-0 shortly after it expired.

That goal ended UMass goalie Matt Murray’s night. He stopped 14 of the 18 shots he faced before freshman Luke Pavicich took over, making his regular season debut. The Clarence Center, N.Y. native saw some time near the end of UMass’ exhibition against Dartmouth earlier this season.

“Every puck was going into the net. We needed some saves,” Carvel said. “[Murray will] be fine. He’ll bounce back. He had an off night. He’s a good goalie. I don’t know if I’ve ever pulled Matt before. Matt just didn’t have it.”

The Minutemen got the message. After Cockerill went to the penalty box for interference 4:55 into the second, it only took UMass 42 seconds to end the shutout. Anthony Del Gaizo scored in tight from Matthew Kessel and Farmer.

Then captain Bobby Trivigno slipped behind the Terriers defense 26 seconds just later for a breakaway goal. He changed hands and slid the puck past BU’s Drew Commesso with his backhand. Ryan Ufko fed him the release pass, and Josh Lopina also earned an assist on the play.

“It’s just one at a time,” Trivigno said. “You don't really focus on the big four [goal deficit] on the board so much. You focus on doing the little things right and keep working away and chipping away. I think we dug ourselves a little bit too big of a hole in the beginning.”

It got a little deeper with another Cockerill goal at 11:07 from Almonte to restore the three-goal lead, but UMass answered again. Freshman defenseman Scott Morrow unleashed a laser of a shot from near the blue line that picked the top corner to make it 5-3 with 9:53 to go in the period.

The Terriers gave the Minutemen an ideal opportunity to pull even closer after defenseman Ty Gallagher went to the penalty box for a hit after the whistle. UMass sustained pressure for most of the power play but only generated two shots that went wide.

In the third, UMass thought it pulled within a goal with 11:41 left. Ufko rang the post, then a mass of second line bodies took their cracks at it. The puck appeared over the line. Referees stopped play and gave UMass a face off in the offensive zone but no more, not even a review.

Tirvigno dribbled in the goal that cut it to 5-4 51 seconds later from Kessel and Aaron Bohlinger.

“It was kind of fun to dig out of that hole,” Carvel said. “I thought we were gonna find a way with how the kids were playing, the energy on the bench. Never in my time here has a team quit on me, and I’d never expect that to happen. They got mad, they got angry and worked hard.”

UMass controlled the third period fully and completely, outshooting the Terriers 35-10. BU coach Albie O'Connell called timeout 12:54 into the period to give his team a break and try to curtail the Minutemen’s onslaught.

“It was a conversation, enjoy the crowd. It’s a great crowd, it’s a great building, it’s a great opportunity to stabilize,” O’Connell said.

The announced attendance of 6,369 was made up almost entirely of UMass students on campus for the first week after winter break. They overflowed the typical student section and fanned out through most of the arena.

“It was outstanding. It seemed like they were the only people here,” Carvel said. “I’m grateful that they come support us. You get that full house and you wish you would’ve found a way to win or come back so they’ll come back again. I think you have to appreciate how hard the kids worked … I hope people appreciate that about this team. Nobody's perfect. We try to be, but we don't give up.”

The Minutemen pulled Pavicich, who finished with eight saves, with 1:30 left. After some pressure, BU’s Max Kaufman intercepted a pass and found himself 1-on-1 with a defenseman and an empty net. He calmly fired the puck in the middle of the net to end UMass’ comeback hopes.

UMass will next host No. 17  Providence at 7 p.m. Friday. It’s the fourth game in the past week for the Minutemen.

“We don’t take losses lightly in any way at home, away, wherever it is," Trivigno said. “We don’t want to lose games. We should win every game, as Carv says. We’re just not really happy with losing, but we’ve got something to look forward to.” 

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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