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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 seeks warmth after freezing up in weekend disaster

Dong Woo Im
Forward Jack Mortson faces off against UMass Dartmouth. Photo by Dong Woo Im / Mass Media Staff.

There’s getting a slap to the face, then there’s getting a slapshot to the face. For UMass Boston Men’s Hockey, they weren’t able to come out of their biggest fight of the season shining on top; instead, they escaped their two-day beatdown with a couple shiners as well as some untapped anger and motivation to come back stronger. Facing Elmira College as well as Hobart and William Smiths Colleges on back-to-back nights, the Beacons had a tough go-around trying to hang with two of Division III’s best teams. According to Beacons Athletics, coming out on top in three of their previous four games leading up to their bouts Feb. 2 and 3, UMass Boston had the idea of playing spoiler in mind, though they’d soon be in for a rude awakening, and were given a good old slice of humble pie. [1]

The Beacons went to Elmira, N.Y. with the intention to ruffle feathers and upset their opponent. At puck drop, their wave of confidence was coming on strong, trying to send a message early by snapping a quick one past Eagles’ netminder Kyle Curtin to get on the board. However, Jade Kurtas’ attempt was blocked, and the Eagles soared up the ice, with Janis Vizbelis leading the charge. According to Beacons Athletics’ play-by-play, the forward adjusted his Eagle eyes, scoped out Sam Best, and connected on his 13th snipe of the year 29 seconds into the game, sending the Beacons into a tailspin with a message that they’re not birds of a feather with them. [2] 

Nonetheless, the Beacons were persistent in their attack on the offensive front. Elmira was robbed by the pipe twice in a 28 second span just past the halfway mark of the first period and, had they found nylon, it would have been a sky-high task for the Beacons to battle back. Luckily, the score remained 1–0 after 20 minutes, and the Beacons’ presence over Elmira’s blueline was prevalent throughout, to which they hoped their aggressive play would catch the Eagles lacking and burn holes through their defense. 

Outshooting Elmira 16–10 in the first, UMass Boston looked to replicate their play in the second, and they got off to a tremendous start with the help of Jack Mortson’s stick. Mortson knotted the game up at one goal apiece with 17:33 to go in the second, giving the Beacons breathing room and the Eagles a shot of their own medicine. [2] UMass Boston had Elmira on their heels, getting pucks deep and rifling off shots any chance they could. 

However, their momentum came to a screeching halt when Blake Colman was sent to the sin bin for Cross-checking, giving the Eagles a chance to sharpen their claws and swoop in on the opportunity to pull ahead. Elmira did just that after 56 seconds elapsed on Colman’s two minute infringement, and for good measure, the aeries circled around the net to strike again, scoring two goals in a matter of 2:01 to take a 3–1 lead just over the halfway mark of the game. [2]

With the tide completely shifting in a matter of minutes, the Beacons tried everything to stop the bleeding, but unfortunately shot themselves in the foot after having their sights set on an orchestrated attack. Two shots by Kurtas and Jazz Krivtsov were unable to bring the deficit to one, and moments after, defenseman Kevin Sadovski was sent to the box on an interference call with 8:39 left in the second. Now without one of their top blueliners for an all-important penalty kill, the Beacons looked like they escaped trouble, but Ryan Reifler rifled one past Best to make it 4–1. The second period was all Elmira, and UMass Boston had to dig deep in order to have a chance at coming out on top. 

Stepping onto the ice in an unfavorably adverse position for the third period, UMass Boston let the Eagles lock on with their talons and get a vice grip of their destiny after giving up three unanswered goals in the second. The Beacons finally answered the call with the help of some four-on-four action. Going on the power play 1:34 into the period, Sadovski was again called for a penalty—this time for holding—14 seconds later, giving way to 1:46 of two-way, shorthanded hockey. Zander Lizotte took advantage of the open ice, putting home his second shot of the year to make it 4–2 with 17:26 left. Sadovski was not exonerated for his actions, though, and his penalty bit the Beacons in the end with Vizbelis getting fans to make it rain chapeaus after he secured a hat trick 21 seconds later. 

Down three once again, the Beacons pulled out all the stops to squeeze out every last drop of power and momentum they had, pouring it on with 15 shots in the third period, to no avail. Curtin acting as a steel curtain squandered all hope for men’s hockey, and Elmira was able to pull a rather undeserving shorthanded goal out of Vizbelis’ hat of tricks via a six-on-four empty netter, silencing the Beacons as they attempted to take their last gasp, and stamping a 6–2 statement win into the books.

The first day of their trip to the Empire State didn’t go over well, but the Beacons made sure not to dwell on it in an attempt to move onto their next bout with a new frame of mind. Then again, it’s hard to bounce back from a dispirited loss when the best Division III team in the country is on the cards the following day. Regardless, the Beacons went into Hobart College with a clean slate and a single goal in mind: Overthrow the Statesmen. 

The Statesmen and Beacons remained diplomatic through a majority of the first period, but Hobart billed UMass Boston as an enemy from the beginning. Their onslaught of shots in the opening frame created chaos for backup puckstopper Anthony Tarantino, who was thrown into uncharted territory with Hobart’s relentless attack. Beacons Athletics reported that Tarantino held his own, letting just one goal squeak by with 6:30 left. [3] The goal came just 59 seconds after Mortson nearly put the Statesmen into panic mode with an early 1–0 Beacon lead, but his shot was saved by the pipe after it rang off the iron. No more arteries were targeted for the remaining minutes of the first, leaving the second period up in the air as any teams’ game. 

A 2–0 game was created 2:48 into the second period, leaving the Beacons on the brink of another disheartening loss after Brandon Sachetti hammered his eighth goal of the year home. Still, it was either teams’ game. From there on, most of the second period consisted of some filibustering on both ends of the ice, no shots would sneak by either side until the final five minutes of play. Austin Mourar set up camp for the Statesmen, taking a chunk of the pipe as material; Tristan Fasig scored 20 seconds after Mourar’s newfound souvenir to extend Hobart’s lead to three with 25:10 remaining in the game. The game seemed out of reach for the Beacons, and as a result, frustrations grew and exchanges ensued. Sachetti was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and was rewarded with a 10 minute game misconduct for the facade he put on, awarding the Beacons with a powerplay in the process. The Beacons didn’t take to Sachetti’s theatrics kindly, and the man advantage presented a perfect opportunity for UMass Boston to get on the board back into the game. Three shots were taken in the five-on-four, but the Beacons were unable to capitalize, and the score remained 3–0 heading into the second intermission.

The Beacons had some momentum on their shoulders in the third period with Sachetti’s lack of presence on the Hobart bench, but all hope was crushed when the Statesmen had a call to action with two goals in the first 94 seconds to make it a five-goal game. The final blows were delivered 17 seconds apart for the Beacons, and the rest of the game was a matter of limiting the resulting ripples of damage as much as possible. 

Fortunately, the Beacons were able to rid the goose egg from their name a few minutes after Hobart’s bombardment. Beacons Athletics noted that Jakob Teply found the back of the net after Ryan Leonard made a terrific play; he streaked past a couple pylons and delivered a perfect pass to set up Teply for a score. [4] The lead was cut to four, but UMass Boston was unable to add to their total despite honest efforts, and a sixth goal by the Statesmen halfway through the final period sealed the game at 6–1.

No matter what the scoresheet for both games say, the Beacons put up noble efforts on offense and defense. Hobart is a different breed entirely, and it seems that the vision of the statesmen is to specialize in hockey and wreak havoc in the NCAA. Even so, the Beacons were neck-and-neck statistically with Elmira, beating them 37–34 in the faceoff dot, and peppered them with 39 shots, three shy of the Eagles’ 42. [2] The biggest takeaway is that the one thing the Beacons need to work on exclusively is execution. They showed they can stay within striking distance with some of the top teams in the New England Hockey Conference—albeit, Hobart was dominant in their match, but that’s any given Friday and Saturday for them. In the end, everything’s chalked up to discipline, and crucial mistakes follow a lack thereof.

With the tournament coming up, the Beacons should have faith, and if they go on to face the Eagles at some point, it’s imperative they realize that they’ve shown to fans—time and time again—they have all the talent in the world to prove they’re here to stay. It’s indisputable they have the ability to match up with some of the NEHC’s top teams statistically; now, it’s time for the Beacons to deliver some shiners, and show how great they are in all three phases of the game. 

  1. 2023-24 Men’s Ice Hockey Schedule – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)
  2. Men’s Ice Hockey vs Elmira College on 2/2/2024 – Box Score – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)
  3. Men’s Ice Hockey vs Hobart College on 2/3/2024 – Box Score – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)
  4. Men’s Hockey Battles To The End Against The Nation’s Best The Hobart Statesmen – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)
About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Dong Woo Im, Photographer