AMHERST, Mass. — Alex Berrys first period score brought the crowd into it. A kill of a second period 5-on-3 brought the momentum. And when Berry scored his second goal of the game with 10 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in regulation, it was over.
It was Paul Dainton, though, the sophomore goaltender, who won this one for Massachusetts. Dainton made 35 saves — including eight on that second period 5-on-3 — in UMass 6-4 win over Hockey East leader, No. 3 Northeastern.
Paul made some big saves and kept us in the game tonight, Berry said following the game. Theres no way he shouldve given up four goals. Thats our teams fault.
Thats the most disappointing thing; I think Paul played great, UMass coach Don Cahoon said. He gave us a really solid effort, and those goals that they got in the third period where just a reflection of poor net front defense and not cleaning house.
January closes with Northeastern right where it was when it began, atop the league standings. The lead has shrunk to two points, though, after second place Boston University defeated Merrimack tonight.
With the victory, the Minutemen gain some momentum in the battle for the fourth and final home-ice slot in Marchs Hockey East tournament after a taking a point from a pair with Vermont last weekend.
We have to square some things away. It always seems to go one way or the other, Cahoon said.
Im happy with the two points. Im happy with the league win, but Im really unhappy with the way the second and third periods played out.
Last Friday we play really well, but we lose 2-1. Tonight, we not nearly as thorough; we dont play nearly as solid a game, but we get a bunch of goals and make it work for us. Sometimes its hard to figure out well just take the two points and move on.
Marred by three late tallies and a decisive physical shift late in the game, Daintons performance kept the oft-penalized Minutemen in the lead throughout. UMass afforded the Huskies — who entered the game converting on 17.7 percent of their chances — seven power plays in the game.
NU scored on three of its seven power plays, two of the goals came in the third period with UMass holding a decisive advantage. In the second, when a goal seemed almost inevitable, Dainton was at his finest.
With two of UMass best penalty killers, Cory Quirk and Chris Davis, serving minors, the Huskies maintained possession for the duration of the two-man advantage. Passes sailed through the UMass triangle; shots came from all angles, but Dainton slid back and forth to preserve the lead.
I believe that when you dont score on a 5-on-3, its a bad omen for your team, NU coach Greg Cronin said. [UMass] had a 4-on-3 for a good chunk of time and they scored. There were two big moments; one was their 4-on-3 to go 3-1, and our 5-on-3.
Even when the Minutemen had all five skaters on the ice, Dainton made saves that augmented the momentum gathered from their offensive assault and the 7,128 in attendance.
A Berry turnover to the left of the UMass goal, with the score 2-0, allowed NU captain Joe Vitale to dangle in alone on Dainton.
The 7,212 surrounding the ice clamored, expecting Vitale, an established top line center, to halve the UMass advantage. Dainton inched out of his crease as Vitale approached; he ignored the initial fake on the forehand, dropped to one knee when Vitale shifted to his backhand and kicked the low attempt out.
UMass winger James Marcou, united with linemates Berry and Quirk, assisted on four UMass goals, including the three scored by Berry and Quirk. The total tied his career-high and moved him into second in Hockey East in scoring with 31 points on eight goals and 23 assists.
Northeastern forwards Wade MacLeod and Tyler McNeely both suffered injuries in the game. Cronin declined to go into detail about either injury, but commented that he wasnt hopeful in McNeelys case.
The Huskies are off until Monday night when they take on Boston College in the late game of the first round of The Beanpot. UMass has Saturday off before heading to Maine for a 4 p.m. puck drop on Sunday.