AMHERST, Mass. — Matt Anderson, who hadn’t played a game in over a year, scored a hat trick, and James Solon’s hard charge produced the game-winning goal as Massachusetts downed Clarkson 6-4 at the Mullins Center Saturday night.
The Minutemen open their season with a win, while the Golden Knights fall to 0-2, with both losses coming to Hockey East teams, as they fell 4-2 to Providence Friday night.
Solon’s goal, though not the prettiest of the night, came at an important time for the Minutemen, who found themselves trailing to begin the third period. After Anderson scored his second goal of the day just 16 seconds into the final frame, P.J. Fenton threw a slapshot toward the net that ricocheted off Clarkson goaltender Dustin Traylen, and was knocked in off Solon’s backside as the junior crashed the net.
That tally put the Minutemen up 5-4 with 14:27 to go, and they had to hold off only a few Golden Knight attacks in the final minutes.
Anderson, who sat out the 2003-04 season with a shoulder injury, scored his third goal of the night thanks to the altruism of linemate Kevin Jarman, who streaked along the left-wing boards, but rather than cutting to the net, waited for Anderson and fed him for an empty-net goal, cementing the UMass victory.
Neither goaltender stood out, though both made key saves. UMass’ Gabe Winer made 29 stops on 33 shots, and Traylen halted 26 of the Minutemen’s 32 attempts.
Although there were two intense pockets of scoring in the first and third periods, the game was marked by an astonishing number of penalties — 28 whistles for a total of 59 minutes. The Minutemen’s difficulties included a five-minute major charging call on Zech Klann in the first period that resulted in two Clarkson goals.
Otherwise, both teams did well to neutralize the penalties, and opened up for a combined four goals in the final four minutes of the first period.
For the Golden Knights, it was just more of the same. Clarkson’s loss to Providence featured 25 combined penalties, and 24 minutes of penalty time were assessed to Clarkson. Called for 14 penalties (28 minutes), the Golden Knights struggled to maintain offense, despite scoring four goals.
“Our guys played hard tonight,” Clarkson coach George Roll said, “I wasn’t disappointed at all in our effort. It’s just very frustrating to play the game like that. It’s frustrating for the players, because they don’t know what they can do.”
The Minutemen, who were penalized more than Clarkson, also had trouble getting through the constant calls of the first period and early second.
“It’s pretty hard, there’s no flow to the game,” said UMass forward Stephen Werner. “It’s a bit discouraging. It will probably take a few games to get used to it.”
The NCAA sent a letter to teams before the season began, notifying them that officials would crack down this year, with an emphasis on obstruction. To wit, a combined 13 penalties were called for obstruction and interference in the game.
The Minutemen opened the scoring when Werner won a faceoff in the zone on the power play, and slipped the puck back to Marvin Degon, who fired a slapshot that beat Traylen high for the game’s first goal at the 6:47 mark.
After 10 minutes of penalty-ridden play, Clarkson responded with a power-play goal of its own, from Jay Latulippe off a feed from Mac Faulkner with 3:40 to go. The Minutemen, still shorthanded with Klann serving his major, got a boost from Anderson, who scored his first goal with a breakaway wrister just 18 seconds later.
Latulippe fired back with a slapshot from the point to tie the game at two, but Werner sent the Minutemen to the locker room with a 3-2 lead, getting a pretty feed from Marvin Degon in the slot, and quickly converting it with :28 to go in the first.
The first period was a penalty-box parade, with a combined 15 called. The Golden Knights went to the box eight times, and the Minutemen were called for seven infractions.