Ice Hockey

UMass Hockey Drops OT Heartbreaker At Merrimack, 4-3

Junior Branden Gracel had a pair of assists in the setback at Merrimack on Friday.

Junior Branden Gracel had a pair of assists in the setback at Merrimack on Friday.

March 8, 2013

Box Score

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The UMass hockey team scored three times with the man advantage in the final four minutes, one second of regulation to erase a two-goal deficit, but Merrimack responded with the game winner 1:45 into overtime to hand the Minutemen (11-19-3, 8-16-2 HEA) a 4-3 setback on Friday night at Lawler Arena.

Senior co-captain Rocco Carzo and junior Branden Gracel both had multi-point nights for UMass, with a goal and an assist and a pair of assists, respectively.

Merrimack broke through for the first of the night 11:53 into the opening period. Off a rebound from John Heffernan and Shawn Bates, Jordan Heywood banged home a shot inside the left post from close range for his eighth of the season.

Five minutes, 56 seconds into the second stanza, John Gustafson pushed the advantage to 2-0, lifting the puck over the right goal pad of a sprawling Steve Mastalerz. Quinn Gould and Justin Mansfield picked up the assists.

Then with the final period winding down, UMass cut its deficit in half at the 15:59 mark. Sophomore Zack LaRue put the puck on net, which popped loose for Carzo. Carzo hit the post, but freshman Shane Walsh was there to poke the puck home for the extra skater, 6-on-4 power-play goal.

However, the Warriors took the goal back just 35 seconds later. On a two-on-one, Mike Collins finished off a pass from Brian Christie and Heywood at 16:48.

The Minutemen then pulled back to within 3-2 at 17:23. After receiving the puck from junior Joel Hanley, Gracel found junior Conor Sheary on the opposite side of the slot for a one-timer.



With 41 seconds left in regulation, Carzo's shot from senior Darren Rowe and Hanley found its way through traffic and past Sam Marotta to force the extra period.

Following an icing call 1:45 into overtime, Vinny Scotti won an offensive zone faceoff for Merrimack and sent the puck back to Brendan Ellis for a shot from the point that was tipped home by Connor Toomey for the game winner.

UMass finished the night with a 40-36 shot advantage and won 40 of 89 faceoffs. Mastalerz made 32 saves in net for the Minutemen, while Marotta had 37 stops for the Warriors. UMass was 2-for-6 on the power play on the evening and Merrimack was 0-for-1.

The Minutemen will close out the season tomorrow night, Mar. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Mullins Center against Merrimack.

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