Huskies hosted the University of Massachusetts Minutemen at Matthews Arena for the backend of a home and home this past weekend. During Friday’s game in Amherst, the Huskies blanked the Minutemen in their own barn while spanking them at the other end with five goals. One had to wonder what the second game between these two teams would result in, especially given the memories of hockey players.
The first period started off with a number of whistles that made the first few minutes choppy before things got into a groove and the Huskies picked up where they left off in Amherst, as Garret Cockerill got the Huskies on the board first at 7:08 with assists from Dylan Sikura and Kevin Roy while on the power play as Austin Plevy was off for hooking. Four and a half minutes later the Stevens brothers would increase the Huskies lead to 2-0 as Nolan Stevens got his 12th goal on the season with assists from his brother John and Matt Benning. Four minutes later, while Ryan Ruck thought he had the goal between the pads, it would slip through off the stick of Anthony Petrella getting the Minutemen on the score sheet and cutting the Huskies lead in half.
As the second period got underway, the teams would begin with the unusual 4-on-3 power play in favor of the Huskies. Kurt Keats had been whistled for boarding at 18:48 of the first, which carried over. Then, as frustrations and memories boiled over a bit, Nolan Stevens and William Lagesson were each whistled for roughing at the end of the first period. As the second period continued the Minutemen’s Maddison Smiley was able to tie up the game at two apiece making this a different game from Friday night.
Just as the horn signaled the end of that middle frame, Sam Kurker hit one of the Minutemen hard into the boards and it looked like there would be no penalty called, which had the head coach of the Minutemen, John Micheletto seeing a new shade of red. When it was all said and done Kurker had received a charging penalty, but instead of getting a power play out of it, the Minutemen would find themselves serving a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result of the abuse the referee endured from Micheletto. Micheletto was also ejected as the Minutemen were assessed a 10-minute game misconduct.
The third period, like the second, began with special teams and there would be a lot of special teams being iced as the third continued. Penalties continued to mount—18 between the two teams—and some four-on-four hockey as well. Nolan Stevens would get his second of the game at 13:48 of the third and then he and his brother John would assist on the Huskies’ fourth goal of the night off the stick of Zach Aston-Reese at 16:57. What was most impressive was that the Minutemen were actually outshooting the Huskies in the final period. Huskies freshman net minder Ruck stood tall and ensured that his team had a chance to take the win.
The memories and frustrations from the first game were evident in this second game and though Huskies’ head coach Jim Madigan had stressed to his team before Saturday’s game even began to not retaliate, in the heat of battle things can escalate.
The forward trio of the Stevens brothers and Aston-Reese has been excellent, especially of late. The chemistry between them has allowed them to get some crucial goals and continue to help the Huskies find a way to climb up the ladder in the standings.
They travel to Connecticut to take on the UConn Huskies on Friday night and then on Saturday will host the Huskies for another backend of a home and home. It will be interesting to see how that one plays out for sure.
Postgame interviews with Nolan Stevens and Jim Madigan: