Following Friday’s 2-0 loss to No. 4 Boston College, Massachusetts’ coach Don Cahoon questioned whether or not his team could recover in less than 24 hours.
Four goals, 112 penalty minutes and an overtime game-winner later, Cahoon’s question was answered.
Freshman center Casey Wellman scored at 4:19 of the overtime to give UMass the win in front of a Mullins Center record crowd of 8,389, lifting UMass to 4-3 win over BC.
“That’s why I love college hockey; both teams played hard, both teams should be commended,” Cahoon said. “Our team got the lucky bounce at the end; it just fell on [Wellman’s] stick. We made a great play, getting the puck to the net and following up.
“It was a thrilling win for us and a very important two points.”
The win lifted the Minutemen into a third-place tie in Hockey East with Vermont, who they play Tuesday night in Amherst.
Wellman’s game-winner came 1:09 after the Minutemen successfully killed off a John Wessbecker hooking minor. Sophomore goaltender Paul Dainton saved two shots on the Eagles’ power play.
“It created some momentum for us, killing the penalty in overtime,” Dainton said.
The Minutemen picked up after Dainton’s saves on BC’s man advantage. Wellman’s goal came after a prolonged possession in the Eagles’ zone. Senior defenseman Topher Bevis fired the puck toward the BC goal. Winger Alex Berry deflected the puck through BC goaltender John Muse’s legs and it stopped in the crease before Wellman darted in from the opposite faceoff circle and poked it past Muse.
Cahoon altered UMass’ lineup following consecutive 2-0 losses, Friday at BC and last weekend to Mass.-Lowell.
“We’d gone a few games without scoring,” Cahoon said.. “I didn’t make a lot of changes. I just flipped [Cory] Quirk and Wellman. The changes weren’t wholesale; we just flipped the centers to give them a new look.”
The changes paid off early in the first period when sophomore James Marcou gave UMass a 1-0 lead on a wraparound at 1:18. The Eagles tied it 47 seconds later and took the lead 1:42 after that on Kyle Kucharski’s fourth goal of the season.
Marcou scored his second goal of the period, and team-high seventh, to pull UMass even. Senior winger Chris Davis gained the UMass zone and dropped the puck to Marcou. Davis headed to the net and created a screen before Marcou fired the puck over Muse’s left shoulder.
“The last few games, we didn’t even score a goal; it was nice to get a few early,” Berry said. “We talked this morning about getting more quality scoring chances and shots on net.”
With UMass leading 3-2 in the second period, sophomore defenseman Nick Petrecki leveled a UMass forward when Muse froze the puck on a shot from the point. Berry and Petrecki started trading shoves before all 10 skaters on the ice did the same. In the end, eight players received 10-minute misconducts for their roles in the fight; no players received game misconducts, however.
“When you play back-to-back games, there’s a lot of carry over from one night to the next,” BC coach Jerry York said. “It becomes a little more physical the second night. [Aside from the fight] there were some good, solid hits. It’s a speed and skill game, but it’s a collision game, too.”
With eight players in the penalty box for 10 minutes, the teams played very hesitantly until the Eagles tied the game, 3-3, with fewer than 3 minutes remaining in the period. Senior Benn Ferriero took a drop pass from Brian Gibbons, waited until a screen formed in front of Dainton, then wristed the shot over his left shoulder.
The goaltenders took over at that point. Dainton stopped 39 BC shots in the game, including 12 in the third period and four in overtime. With the third period nearly over, Kucharski skated in alone on Dainton. Kucharski faked with his backhand before going back to his forehand just in front of the crease, Dainton kicked his left pad out and stopped Kucharski’s stuff attempt.
“I thought Dainton was sharp, and I thought he was aggressive,” Cahoon said. “He stayed square to the puck all night and his glove was good. He gave us the type of goaltending you need to win a game like this.”