October 8, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

UMass Freshman Boyle Solid in Opener

by Michael King/CHN Reporter

BOSTON — With injuries sidelining his other goaltending options, Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon asked Kevin Boyle to lead his team to victory in a hostile building for his first collegiate start. The freshman responded with a 29-save effort in a 3-3 tie against Northeastern at Matthews Arena.

It was a game that easily could have been a UMass victory as Northeastern tied the score with 2 seconds remaining. The Huskies equalized by forcing the puck into the net after an extended scrum shielded Boyle.

Despite failing to close the game in the final seconds, the goalie offered a strong effort and avoids sole blame for each of the three goals. In fact, Boyle made key saves throughout the third period when the Huskies pressured most substantially.

"I'm pleased with the way he responded," Cahoon said of Boyle after the game. "He stood up to [Northeastern's pressure] until the very end."

With a young defense (four sophomores and one freshman), it can be a challenge to successfully break-in a goalie without any Hockey East experience. To exacerbate the situation, the defensive combination of Conor Allen, Adam Phillps, Joel Hanley and Oleg Yevenko combined for six different penalties. The substantial time spent with the man disadvantage certainly added pressure to Boyle's debut.

But the UMass defense did a good job securing pucks in their own zone and avoided dangerous turnovers. Yet, several failed clear attempts — including one in the final seconds — ultimately provided an offensive opening for Northeastern.

Even with the dependable play from his freshman goalie, Cahoon concluded that it does not guarantee Boyle the starting role next Friday against Bentley and Saturday at Providence. However, Boyle acknowledges that the experience puts him in an advanced position moving forward.

"It's good to play your first game then go back into the next week of practices and work even harder," Boyle said.

However, Boyle has strong competition in net and it could become an intense competition if injuries subside. Sophomore Jeff Teglia was unavailable with the flu and freshman Steve Mastalerz has been out since the first week of practice with a groin injury.

Teglia entered the program as a highly-regarded goalie who had an exceptional season in the USHL in 2009-10. He played in nine games last year for the Minutemen, including four on the road at Minnesota and Wisconsin. Mastalerz enjoyed a strong prep career at Kimball Union and hopes to see his first action once receiving medical clearance in the near future.

Regardless of who earns the starting position, Cahoon believes that his team can expect to receive a consistently strong performance.

"I truly believed entering the season that goaltending would not be an issue for this team," he said.

After the game, Boyle acknowledged that his first college hockey game was far different than anything he experienced in juniors.

"The pace is a lot faster — you have to be ready for a shot coming from anywhere on the ice and it could be a legitimate shot," he said. "The competition is a lot better and it keeps you on your heels."

In fact, the player acknowledged overcoming nerves immediately once his first Hockey East action began.

"The whole day I was nervous," Boyle said. "But once you step-out on the ice for warm ups that all goes away and you focus on helping your team win."

Cahoon's recruitment of Boyle came early and his monitoring of the young goalie continued last season when he played for Darren Yopyk with the Westside Warriors of the BCHL. Yopyk played for Cahoon at Princeton and briefly served on his coaching staff at UMass as a graduate assistant.

"We recruited him at a younger age and he has developed nicely," Cahoon said of his freshman goalie. 

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