AMHERST, Mass. — Defensive pairs aren’t supposed to dominate offensively like this. But Marvin Degon and Thomas Pock defied convention to lead Massachusetts to a 8-6 victory over Connecticut Friday.
The two combined for nine points as the Minutemen kept Hockey East’s undefeated streak over the MAAC alive.
“I don’t think that really matters,” Pock said of the streak. “I just wanted to beat UConn.”
Down 5-2 with under a minute left in the second period, the Huskies scored four straight goals, capped by Ron D’Angelo’s breakaway tally that made it 6-5 with under nine minutes to play.
But Pock wouldn’t let his team die.
He scored the equalizer on an end-to-end rush of the highlight variety. He worked a give-and-go with James Solon in his own zone before taking off for the goal. Pock blew by two UConn players before finding his way to the slot and firing a wrist shot through the wickets of Jason Carey.
The junior forward-turned-defenseman scored the equalizer just two minutes later after Marcus Baxter took a hooking penalty.
Degon fed Pock at the left point for a one-time blast past Carey’s glove to make the score 7-6. Tim Turner added an empty-netter to seal the game.
Pock’s scoring spree came after Don Cahoon benched him for taking a double minor penalty that led to the Huskies tying the game.
“We took a couple stupid penalties,” Pock said, pointing to himself. “I got a little frustrated, Coach Cahoon yelled at me and I didn’t want to lose against them.”
So Pock took matters into his own hands and extended his school record for defenseman scoring to 31 with five points in the game (also a school record).
“Tommy Pock’s penalty was just as bad a penalty as you can take,” Cahoon said. “As good a player as he is, that’s no excuse to take a penalty like that. Thank God he’s got the gifts that he has. He put on a little show at the end there.”
The second period saw both teams score two goals, but there’s no question which squad had the advantage in overall play. The Minutemen outshot their visitors 16-9 in the period and had no problem rushing through UConn’s trapping style.
But despite UMass’ domination, the Huskies ended the period with the momentum on Adam Rhein’s second goal of the year.
Eric St. Arnauld fed Rhein on the right-wing boards before heading to the net. Nobody picked up Rhein off the wall and he walked in and beat a screened Gabe Winer from in close.
The score made it 5-3 after UMass scored two goals in a six-minute span. The last came on Chris Capraro’s fifth of the year to give UMass a 5-2 lead.
Pock threaded a two-zone feed to Capraro, who had one man left to beat. He did so with a jaw-dropping toe drag before firing a wrist shot into Carey’s leg pad. But the freshman collected the rebound and put it home for a 5-2 lead.
Sophomore Craig MacDonald gave the Minutemen a two-goal lead with his first of the year at 12:52 of the second.
Pock was involved again by turning around two UConn defensemen before snapping a shot off of Carey. MacDonald gathered the rebound and went up high over the sprawled goaltender.
“I thought MacDonald and Jacobs and Alden played a pretty strong game,” Cahoon said. “That’s as good a game as we’ve gotten out of a third line in awhile.”
D’Angelo scored his first of two goals in the game on a misplay by Winer (18 saves). The freshman netminder rushed off his line to clear a puck away but D’Angelo beat him to it and scored into the empty net.
“He was really bothered by his decision on the second goal,” Cahoon said. “Gabe doesn’t get affected by too much but I think that stuck with him.”
A dominant 20 minutes of hockey saw UMass take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
The Minutemen got goals from three different players including a pretty individual effort from leading scorer Greg Mauldin to take a 2-1 lead at 7:16.
The sophomore took a feed in the slot from Matt Anderson before heading to the net. He didn’t have a good angle so he skated behind the net and quickly cut back to stuff the puck in past a fooled Carey.
Degon and Matt Walsh had UMass’ other goals while St. Arnauld scored for UConn.
The Minutemen (15-15-1) can now look ahead to a two game home series with Maine while the Huskies (6-18-3) are at AIC on Sunday.