BOSTON — Massachusetts’ Coach Don Cahoon noticed a lot of similarities between his team’s first two games of the season.
There was a massive discrepancy in shots. The team that controlled a majority of the play lost, while the other took advantage of their opportunities. The main difference for the Minutemen, however, was the outcome.
“Here we are 24 hours later and it’s almost a mirror image of last night’s game, but in reverse,” Cahoon said following Saturday night’s game.
UMass defeated No. 5 North Dakota, 3-2, despite a 42-16 shot disadvantage Saturday afternoon at Agganis Arena in the third game of the Ice Breaker Invitational a day after losing to No. 11 Michigan State in both team’s season opener.
The Fighting Sioux left Boston as the only winless team to come from the four-team tournament. They opened their season with a 5-1 loss to No. 9 Boston University on Friday night.
“Our first thought was to come to the rink and compete harder than we did [Friday] and get back to our style of play; and I thought we did that today,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t result in a win.”
UND dominated play for most of the game’s second half, outshooting UMass 16-5 in the second period and 19-4 in the third . UMass junior goaltender Dan Meyers held strong, making save after save, including five on a UND power play with less than five minutes left in the game.
On Friday night, Meyers struggled to control rebounds against the Spartans, which resulted in two of the three MSU goals. The UMass defensemen succeeded in keeping shooting lanes clear on Saturday, allowing Meyers to see shots better and corral them on the first attempt.
The Sioux defensemen, however, failed to clear space in front of their own goal. All of UMass’s goals began with shots from the blue line and ended with deflections beating UND goaltender Aaron Walski.
Sophomore winger James Marcou scored two goals for UMass, including the game-winner after senior center Cory Quirk fired a wrist shot from the right face-off circle toward the goal. Marcou headed for the crease and redirected Quirk’s shot past Walski.
“I think we moved the puck well, but the main reason we did well [on the power play] was probably because we created screens,” UMass captain Cory Quirk said. “[Friday night] we really didn’t get there in time. One of our goals [Saturday night] was a tip in. We set a screen out front and the goalie didn’t really have much of a chance.”
The goal was UMass and Marcou’s second power-play goal of the night. At 13:55 of the first period, junior defenseman Justin Braun and senior winger Alex Berry slid the puck back and forth at the blue line waiting for a seam to open. Marcou circled the net and found a hole behind the UND penalty kill. Braun, at the right point, looked to shoot, but instead slid the puck through the four defenders and right onto Marcou’s stick. Walksi, screened by his own men, reacted late and Marcou slid the puck into the open net.
The Fighting Sioux didn’t enjoy the same success on the man advantage as UMass. Despite drawing seven penalties, UND didn’t convert until their sixth opportunity. A Chris VandeVelde wrister from the right face off circle found its way past Meyers.
UND’s power play floundered for most of the weekend. Unable to find any rhythm, the Fighting Sioux combined to go 1-for-14 on the weekend after an 0-for-7 seven against BU on Friday night.