AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass hockey team nearly erased a three-goal deficit with three scores during the third period before ultimately falling to No. 14 Maine (17-10-6, 14-8-4 HEA) on Friday night at the Mullins Center, 4-3. With the Black Bears leading 1-0 through two periods, the teams combined for six goals in the final 20 minutes of play. Adam Phillips, Danny Hobbs and Michael Pereira all scored for the Minutemen (6-21-5, 5-16-5 HEA), while Paul Dainton made 36 saves in goal. The Mass Attack will have a chance to clinch a playoff berth on the final night of the regular season on Senior Night tomorrow at 7 PM from the Mullins Center.
With a win or tie tomorrow night against Maine, the Minutemen would clinch a spot in the Hockey East Playoffs. Massachusetts can finish in as high as seventh place in the league standings with a win and a Vermont loss on Saturday. A UMass loss and Providence win would eliminate the Minutemen from playoff contention.
The Black Bears outshot the Minutemen 40-34 for the game, while the Minutemen held a 17-5 advantage in the third period. Each team potted a power play goal during the game as UMass went 1-for-4 and Maine 1-for-2 on the man advantage.
The Black Bears dictated the play during the opening minutes of the first period, which saw Maine outshoot the Minutemen 14-9 and tally the game's first goal with eight minutes left in the frame. Danny Hobbs had an opportunity to put the Minutemen up 1-0 early in the stanza when he had back-to-back chances on Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan. Hobbs' primary wrist shot rang off the right post, and Hobbs collected his own rebound to test Sullivan with another bid. Chase Langeraap also had a few chances during the first period, displaying nifty stickhandling through the Black Bear defense before generating wrist shots on goal.
Maine took a one-goal lead with 7:41 remaining in the period when Spencer Abbott picked up his 16th goal of the season, with the Black Bears on the power play. Gustav Nyquist began the play when he took a pass from Robby Dee, and skated around Dainton's cage before hitting Abbott with a pass for a crisp one-timer past the UMass captain for the score.
Dainton kept the Minutemen in the game throughout the second period, stopping all 21 Maine bids during the frame. Dainton robbed Dee on a shorthanded breakaway just three minutes into the stanza, and stoned Nyquist after he pinwheeled in the slot and threw a backhander on goal.
Despite three power play attempts during the period, the Minutemen only registered two of its eight second period shots on goal during its man advantages. UMass' best chance of the frame came midway through the stanza when Conor Allen let a snap shot go from just inside the blueline which Sullivan was able to nab with his glove.
Maine potted two quick tallies to kickoff a wild third period before the Minutemen began to claw their way back into the game. Matt Mangene scored his third goal of the season 1:30 into the frame when he skated down the left hand side and tossed a weak shot on kicked off the pad of Dainton and trickled just over the goalline before Conor Sheary could swipe it away. The Black Bears went up 3-0 three minutes later as Nyquist threw a puck into the slot that took a Maine bounce right to the stick of Josh Van Dyk, who fired it past Dainton before he could recover.
UMass began the comeback midway through the period when Marc Concannon skated around the net, and spotted Phillips creeping in from the point. Concannon quickly sent the puck up to Phillips, who then let off a low one-timer that beat Sullivan. Maine answered right back, however, as Dee beat Dainton fivehole on a shot from the left side to regain Maine's three-goal lead.
Hobbs picked up his tenth goal of the season with 7:54 left in regulation with the Minutemen on the power play. Chase Langeraap's original shot from the faceoff was steered aside by Sullivan, but Hobbs was waiting on the doorstep to hammer home the rebound and make it 4-2 Maine.
Pereira made it a one-goal game just seven seconds after the Hobbs tally when he scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season off a feed from Branden Gracel. Massachusetts pulled Dainton with 52 seconds left in regulation, but the Minutemen could not net the equalizer.