AMHERST, Mass. — One night after playing to a 2-2 draw, the Massachusetts Minutemen and Maine Black Bears couldn’t have been less similar.
The Black Bears, playing a productive game on special teams, pummeled the undermanned, penalty-ridden Minutemen (10-12-2, 4-7-2 Hockey East) 5-2 in front of 4,583 at the Mullins Center.
Bret Tyler scored two goals for the Black Bears (12-8-4, 7-3-2 Hockey East), and his second tally held on as the clincher. With UMass’ Sean Regan serving a double minor for cross-checking and an extra swipe at a Maine player on the way to the penalty box, Tyler ripped a hard wrist shot from the left wing point that slithered through a few bodies before beating Gabe Winer. The goal made it 3-2 Maine with 9:27 to go in the second period, and the Black Bears weren’t done.
Five minutes later, Michel Leveille entered the UMass zone shorthanded, dragging a defender in his wake, and flipped the puck at Winer as he passed the right post. After making the initial save, Winer knocked the puck in with his elbow as he tried to reach the puck.
Maine added one more goal, as Keith Johnson one-timed a pretty feed in the slot from Tom Zabkowicz at the 2:23 mark of the third period.
In all, the Black Bears scored three special-teams goals, including Leveille’s shorthanded tally.
“Special teams was big for us tonight,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Michel’s was a crucial goal. All in all I was very pleased with our special teams.”
The Black Bears started the game off with two goals in the first 13:11, as Tyler opened the scoring thanks to a good centering pass from Mike Hamilton, and Greg Moore picked up a rebound off of Keenan Hopson’s odd-angle shot to give Maine a 2-0 edge early.
The Minutemen fired back late in the first. Freshman David Leaderer took a long crossing pass from classmate P.J. Fenton, and made a nifty move at the net to switch to his backhand and flip the puck past Maine’s Jimmy Howard (14 saves).
Zech Klann tied the game up for the Minutemen at the 6:30 mark of the second period. Peter Trovato made a steal in the offensive zone, and poked the puck between a defender and Howard to Klann, who quickly deposited it into the open net.
The Minutemen couldn’t capitalize on the momentum, though, and the six penalties they took in the latter half of the game was a clear hindrance.
“We have a penalty problem, and it takes away from our game,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We didn’t have the same energy as last night. We were trying to find our way with a band-aid unit out there. We survived being down 2-0, and we got reenergized, but we were snakebitten by a problem we’ve had for some time. [Regan's penalty] was possibly a major reason that cost us the game.
“I was pretty disappointed with that sequence of plays, especially because it happened at a crucial part of the game.
The Minutemen’s third penalty created some controversy. Peter Trovato was sent crashing to the ice when he and a Maine player connected midway through the first period, and appeared to have been hooked. However, Trovato was sent to the box for a two-minute diving minor, and shortly after the Minuteman displayed a small cut across his midsection to the officials skating by, Greg Moore potted his goal to give Maine its initial 2-0 lead.
Though Cahoon said he disagreed with referee Conrad Hache, he came short of blaming Hache for what came next.
“You can’t pin it on the official,” he said. “[The goal] was our problem.”