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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Men’s Hockey Comes Up Short in ECAC East Tournament

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The Beacons during the National Anthem prior to a recent game

For many Division III men’s ice hockey teams, losing in their respective conference tournament usually marks the end of a season. Because a large portion of the NCAA Tournament field is reserved for team’s which win their conference tournament and earn an automatic bid, numerous teams with impressive resumes still get left out each year.
The University of Massachusetts Boston men’s team will unfortunately be among those that will watch this year’s NCAA Tournament from afar. After falling to Babson College, 5-2, in the semifinals of the ECAC East Tournament last Saturday, the Beacons still had a chance of qualifying for the NCAA field following an impressive 22-4-1 campaign.
Although the team did not get selected for an at-large bid, UMass Boston head coach Peter Belisle said this has been a successful season regardless.
“We had such a great season,” said Belisle after the loss, who is in his ninth year as the Beacons’ coach. “Losing to Babson certainly stings—it hurts. I think we’ve got to just hope that our record holds up. All we can really do is wait, watch scores, and hope that some favorites win.”
The record didn’t hold up like Belisle wanted as the at large bids went to SUNY Oswego, Hobart College, Trinity, and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. UMass Boston entered the ECAC Tournament as the two seed, while third-seeded Babson—who lost to top-seeded Norwich University in the conference title game on Saturday—earned an upset.
Even though Belisle admitted his team experienced a usual week of practice despite not knowing if they will play another game, the coach said the team realizes it put itself in the less than ideal situation.
“We talked about it being a unique circumstance, but we put ourselves in this position,” he said. “I told them that until we’re told we’re not in the [NCAA] Tournament, we’re going to continue practicing as if there are still games to be played. We’ve got to battle and be prepared to play if our number is called.”
UMass Boston entered the ECAC East Tournament as the number six team in the nation following a 21-3-1 regular season which came to a close with a 4-3 victory over conference rival Norwich on Feb. 14. The team skated to its eighth straight win in the ECAC East quarterfinal, beating Skidmore College 11-1 on Feb. 21. It was a statement win for the Beacons, as the 11 goals scored marked a new record for the most in any postseason game in program history. In the 1982 ECAC Division III tournament UMass Boston registered nine goals against Bentley.
The euphoric feeling was short-lived, however. With the win, the Beacons had the tough task of trying to replicate their offensive performance against Babson, who ended the team’s season with semifinal victories the two previous years. Beating the reigning conference champion Beavers would prove to be difficult, as the team’s net was protected by All-American junior goaltender Jamie Murray, who has maintained an outrageous save percentage of .941.
Following a 4-2 loss to Babson when the teams first met on Jan. 23, UMass Boston bounced back to beat Murray and the Beavers with a 4-3 overtime victory the next night. Belisle felt that win would help his team gain an edge over the talented goalie, though the ECAC East Goaltender of the Year once again contained the Beacons with 42 saves in the semifinal.
“Their All-American goaltender has had our number for three years now,” said Belisle. “You look at the shots—we threw a lot at him—we just weren’t able to solve him. I thought we got over a huge hurdle when we beat them in overtime, but he had another great game in the tournament.”
ECAC loss will mark the final game for the team’s seniors. Forwards Mike Kuhn, who has tallied 24 goals and 35 assists in his UMass Boston career, as well as Nathan Milam (26 goals, 26 assists) and Stephen Buco (23 goals, 41 assists), were among those that Belisle said will be missed next season.
Although the Beacons’ goal was to reach the national tournament all season, the team’s coach said whether they made it or not, the success of this season will help elevate the future of the program.
“It shows we’re building and [UMass Boston] hockey is strong,” Belisle said. “It will also help with recruiting. Since I arrived here we’ve been trying to make steps each year. This season was another step forward, and I think we’re going to get stronger from it.”