(No. 12) UMass 4, (No. 5) Notre Dame 3 (5 OT)
Shane Walsh didn’t know it on Friday night, but he was about to cement his place in UMass hockey history. Technically, it occurred the following morning at 1:24 a.m., but he’ll take it nonetheless.
In Game 1 of their Hockey East quarterfinal match up, UMass and Notre Dame skated to a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation. Then, they finished overtime scoreless. Then another overtime period came and went. And another. And another. Fans grew restless as a crowd of approximately 4,000 thinned to around 500 by the time the game-winner was scored, but those in attendance knew they were witnessing history.
The old record of 150 minutes, 22 seconds set by Quinnipiac and Union five years ago took place in Game 1 of the ECAC Quarterfinals. Quinnipiac came out on top, but faltered in the next two games as Union advanced and eventually lost in the ECAC championship.
UMass shattered the old team record of shots (previously 63) by putting 91 on net. Notre Dame goalie Cal Peterson was up to the challenge, setting an NCAA record by saving 87 of those shots. Steve Mastalerz also set a team record for UMass with his 75 saves in a Division I contest, however came up short in the all-time record of 79, back when the team was playing Division II.
Walsh, having since earned the nickname “Mr. Saturday Morning”, became an instant hero after his game-winner, but the team might not have gotten there if not for another Herculean effort by Steven Iacobellis. Iacobellis netted two goals on the night, helping spark UMass’ comeback effort. Notre Dame led by scores of 2-0 and 3-1 with about 5 minutes left in the second period, but it was UMass who was able to tie the game with just 2 seconds left in the period on a powerplay goal by Troy Power.
That was it for the scoring, at least for 111 minutes and 44 seconds of game play. The third period was scoreless, as were the next four overtime periods. At the end of the fourth overtime, UMass almost It was Notre Dame who came closest to scoring in the fifth overtime when a pass from Vince Hinostroza found Mario Lucia. Lucia, with nothing but wide-open net to shoot on, thought he could end the marathon contest. Instead of burying the game-winner, however his stick snapped in half and the game continued. Lucia threw his broken stick to the ice in understandable frustration.
Finally, at the 11:42 mark of the period, Walsh was able to end the game. Defenseman Dennis Kravchenko carried the puck into the Notre Dame zone in a 4-on-3 rush. Kravchenko’s shot hit a Notre Dame defenseman in front of the net and it bounced over to Walsh. Walsh went down on one knee and his shot rang off the left post, finding the back of the net.
Remarkably, in a game rife with record-setting performances, the teams only managed to combine for five powerplay chances on the night. UMass capitalized on two of three chances on the night, while Notre Dame went one for two. The marathon game lasted almost six hours in total (5 hours, 49 minutes).
(No. 11) Merrimack 3, (No. 6) Northeastern 2 (2OT)
Notre Dame and UMass weren’t the only teams to battle in a multi-OT match up in Game 1. Merrimack lost a 2-0 lead in the third period after Zach Aston-Reese and Mike McMurtry scored twice to force an extra frame.
Justin Hussar scored just his second goal of the season on a powerplay chance in the first period. Clay Witt turned aside a Warrior shot into the corner, but Merrimack dug it out and threw the puck into the slot. Hussar was waiting for it and buried the goal to give Merrimack a 1-0 lead in the first.
Late in the second period, it was a deflection that put Merrimack up two scores on the Huskies. Jonathan Lashyn ripped a clapper from the right point that was directed towards traffic. Jace Hennig, outmanned in front two-to-one, was able to get just enough stick on the puck and deflected it past Witt.
Northeastern didn’t go down without a fight, however. Aston-Reese cut into the lead just four minutes into the third with a wrister over the left shoulder of Rasmus Tirronen. Receiving a stretch pass in the zone, Aston-Reese wound up at the right circle and buried his shot.
Halfway through the third, Northeastern tied the game on a powerplay opportunity. In a scrum in front of the net, Matt Benning and Kevin Roy were unable to jam the puck underneath a sprawling Tirronen. The puck came loose on the left side and there was McMurtry to tie the game at two apiece.
After a scoreless overtime, it appeared as though Northeastern had momentum on a powerplay in the second overtime. Merrimack showed why they were one of the best penalty kill teams all season, though, and a blocked shot led to a two-on-one opportunity. Kyle Singleton wound up from the same spot Aston-Reese shot from and beat Witt high, knocking his bottle off the back of the net and giving Merrimack a 1-0 lead in the series. Notheastern will play Game 2 at Matthews Arena in the only afternoon game of the day, a 4 p.m. match up that will air on NESN.
(No. 7) UVM 4, (No. 10) Maine 2
At the end of the season, Maine had one of the worse turn of events, slipping from No. 8 and potential three-game series against UNH (a team it had beaten three times in four attempts this season) to No. 10 and playing on the road against Vermont.
Vermont had beaten Maine all four times in the regular season, and earned its fifth win on Friday night on a strong third-period effort. The teams traded goals through the first two and half periods as the game went to a 2-2 tie in the third period. Brothers Alexx and Jarrid Privitera each scored for the Catamounts, while Maine’s Jake Rutt and Will Merchant got on the scoreboard.
The Catamounts were powered by three goals in the third, starting with a deflection by Jarrid. Mike Paliotta shot the puck from the point and Jarrid’s stick deflected the puck into the left side of the net.
As the game wound down, looking like it might head to overtime, UVM’s Brendan Bradley stole the puck in the neutral zone and worked his way right-to-left through the Maine end. His wrist shot was high and on the blocker side, beating Matt Morris and giving Vermont the go-ahead goal with just 2:07 to play in the game. An empty net goal with 1:33 was the icing on the cake for Vermont, as they took a 4-2 lead to finish the game
(No. 8) UNH 5, (No. 9) UConn 2
In arguably the least exciting game of the night, UNH took advantage of its powerplay opportunities in the second period to build a 4-0 lead and coasted to a 5-2 finish. The only game all night that was not tied in the third, UConn fought back and cut the UNH lead to 4-2 in the third period, but UNH kept control of the game and Grayson Downing added an empty-netter to seal the game.
UNH did most of its in bunches, scoring twice in each of the first two periods within a minute of another. Tyler Kelleher got the scoring started for the ‘Cats on a one timer from Dan Correale in a two-on-two rush. The shot was saved by Rob Nichols, but the deflection hit off the defenseman (who was called for Hooking on the play) and the puck slid into the net. Downing scored his first of two just 1:10 later, on a feed from Matt Willows from behind the net. UNH cycled the puck down low and it was Downing who found space on the lefthand side, burying the goal.
Willows responded with a goal of his own on a 5-on-3 powerplay, as Downing returned the favor and fed him right on top of the crease. Willows got enough stick on it to change direction and increase the lead to three. Kelleher added his second of the game thirty seconds later on the same powerplay and gave UNH a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Spencer Naas scored the first goal for the Huskies on a wacky bounce that confused UNH goalie Danny Tirone. Coming from behind the net, Naas’ shot was stopped, but it popped over Tirone. Tirone couldn’t see the puck as it fluttered over his shoulder and into the net, making it 4-1. The second goal came in the third period on a rebound score Joey Ferriss. Ryan Tyson put a one-handed shot on Tirone, who made the pad save, but Ferriss gathered the puck in space and put it underneath him.
UConn pulled its goalie Nichols with about a minute to go, but Downing carried the puck all the way into the zone and gave UNH an empty-netter, bringing the game to its final of 5-2. UNH plays at the Whittemore Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
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