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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Sweeps Maine To Gain Semifinal Berth

Steven E. Frischling


UMass bolted out to a 3-0 first-period lead, then added a timely power-play goal to stall a Maine rally in the third period to defeat the fourth-ranked Black Bears, 4-2. With the 2-0 series sweep, the 19-16-1 Minutemen will head to the FleetCenter for the first time in school history to play in the Hockey East semifinals against an opponent to be determined on Friday, March 14.

The Minutemen had the game’s first solid scoring opportunity just under a minute into the game. Stephen Werner (Chevy Chase, Md.) and Greg Mauldin (Holliston, Mass.) came in on Maine goalie Jim Howard on a 2-on-1 breakaway, but Werner’s shot from the right slot was into Howard’s body to keep the game scoreless. After Tim Vitek (Dresden, Ontario) clanged a shot off the post, Thomas Pöck (Klagenfurt, Austria) intercepted a Maine clearing pass and sent a low shot towards Howard. The puck was redirected by a Maine skate in front of the net and slid between Howard’s legs for a 1-0 lead at the 3:01 mark.

Shortly after UMass’ goal, the Black Bears went on a power play, but Gabe Winer (Stoughton, Mass.) and the UMass defense stood tall on Maine’s extra-attacker advantage to preserve the 1-0 cushion.The Minutemen, which had several odd-man rushes in the first 10 minutes, capitalized on one at the 11:18 mark. Senior Tim Turner (Saginaw, Mich) sprung a Minuteman 2-on-1 break with a feed to Mike Warner (Waltham, Mass.) along the right boards. Warner hit a streaking Chris Capraro (Medford, Mass.) along the left side, who one-timed a pass to the left post past Howard, who was shifted to the right to stop a possible Warner shot.

Again, shortly after UMass’ goal, the Black Bears went on another power play, but Winer and the defense killed off their second successful power play of the first period.

The Minutemen then added to the lead at the 16:24 mark when Mauldin fired a shot high that stopped behind the net. Vitek swooped behind the net and sent a pass along the right boards to Jeff Lang (Westwood, Mass). Lang sent a pass to Pöck, who slid a low shot to the right post, that was deflected by Werner for his 14th goal of the season and a 3-0 UMass lead, that sent Howard to the bench for the second straight game. Winer and the UMass defense played brilliantly in the first 20 minutes, limiting Maine’s rushes and holding the Black Bears to only seven shots.

The Minutemen killed off their Maine’s third power play of the game, which startedjust 51 seconds into the period. Winer made several four saves during Maine’s extra-man attack, and the UMass defense blocked two others to keep the Black Bears scoreless. UMass nearly went up 4-0 just five minutes into the second period, but Doyle made a stick-save from his side on a Warner wrister from the left face-off circle to keep the Black Bears within three.

UMass went on its first power play of the evening midway through the second perio, when Mauldin drew a holding penalty on Maine’s Tom Reimann. But the Minutemen couldn’t get set up in Maine’s zone until late in the advantage. Mauldin had a good look late, but the puck got caught in traffic and the Black Bears successfully killed off UMass’ first power-play opportunity.

Maine cut into the UMass lead at the 12:48 mark of the second period when Todd Jackson banged home a Robert Liscak rebound to get on the board, which got the crowd of 4,100 on its feet and into the game. Maine turned up the offensive intensity, but Winer made six saves in the last six minutes and the Minutemen withstood Maine’s initial surge to keep the UMass lead at 3-1 entering the third period.

The Minutemen came out firing in the third, with two strong chances to add to the lead. Tim Turner had a breakaway on Doyle, but his shot from in front sailed high, and Peter Trovato (North Attleboro, Mass.) found a seam in front of the net, but sent a shot wide of the cage. Maine cut into the lead at the 5:47 mark when Derek Damon tipped in a Colin Shields rebound that trickled in past a diving Winer to trim the margin to 3-2. The Black Bears were buzzing after the goal, but the Minutemen staved off every Maine challenge, and then had a golden opportunity at the 11:23 mark in the form of a power play, UMass’ second of the game.

The Minutemen took full advantage as Warner took a Pöck deflection and cycled back, turned and sent a shot top-shelf past Doyle’s glove at the 11:55 mark for a 4-2 lead. UMass dodged another bullet minutes later as Maine went on its fourth power-play of the evening. But the UMass defense didn’t let the Black Bears get set up and killed off the extra-man advantage for the fourth time in as many tries. The Black Bears pulled Doyle with two minutes to play, but couldn’t solve Winer, and the Minutemen started their celebration as the clock wound down.