Heartbreak Again For UMass
by Matt Taylor/CHN Reporter
BOSTON The hockey Gods that reside in the T.D. Banknorth Garden must have it in for Massachusetts.
In the team's third appearance here, much like the last one three seasons ago, 60 minutes wasn't enough to decide a winner. Or 80. And when the red light went on for the final time after 81:30 of exciting action, UMass again found itself on the wrong end of the scoresheet, falling to New Hampshire 3-2 in the Hockey East semifinals.
In the Minutemen's previous visit, they fell to Maine in the title game, 2-1, in triple overtime. Much like in that game, UMass controlled their own destiny in regards to punching their ticket to their first NCAA tournament, a fact that wasn't lost on head coach Don "Toot" Cahoon.
"I'm proud of my guys for the way they competed and the way they executed," he said. "Hopefully we get a chance to continue to play in the future."
Unlike their last trip, though, UMass could earn an at-large bid if everything breaks as expected in the other conference tournaments.
"There's always the unexpected," remarked Cahoon while meeting the media. "If more of the seeded teams win it, I think we're in pretty good shape."
Senior Chris Capraro hopes his career as a Minuteman didn't end with the loss.
"It's a pretty tough loss to take," the Medford, Mass., native said. "Hopefully it works out for us and we get a chance to play more hockey."
The Minutemen had a rough go of it early, as Greg Collins scored at 3:29 of the first period to give UNH an early lead. At the first media timeout a little less than 6:00 in, the Wildcats had a 6-1 shot advantage and goaltender Jon Quick (38 saves) looked a bit shaky. The team stabilized though and actually took control of the period in the final few minutes, capitalizing with a goal by sophomore Alex Berry to not the game with two minutes remaining in the period.
Capraro then gave the Minutemen the lead just after the puck dropped to start the second, collecting the puck in front before roofing it over a sprawled Kevin Regan,
"Cory Quirk made a great play to look over his shoulder and throw it out the back," he said. "I saw him coming out and thought I'd help out."
The agony of overtime, a situation all too familiar in this building, followed Danny Rossman's first collegiate goal. The first session featured a great chance for the Minutemen to all but officially punch their dance ticket when freshman Will Ortiz countered a Quick save off a Josh Ciocco breakaway with one of his own, but the result was just one of Kevin Regan's 44 saves. For the fans it had to bring back memories of the famous title game, where all-league defenseman Thomas Pöck had a similar break with a similar result against Jimmy Howard.
The Minutemen defense, a concern of UNH head coach Dick Umile coming into the game, played well and held the top two potent lines of the Wildcats scoreless.
"I thought we skated pretty well and didn't give up a lot of situational rushes while we had a few on our end," Cahoon said.
In the end though, freshman Bobby Butler's goal relegated UMass to another weekend of hoping and praying to hear their name called Sunday afternoon. Hockey East has no consolation game unlike some conferences so the Minutemen's body of work is complete and left in the hands of the Pairwise.
"We've played in games that have helped us and ones that have hurt us," Cahoon explained. "If it's not meaningful, it can be hard to make something out of the game. I like the idea of playing for the championship."