The UMass Minutemen had a golden opportunity to use Estero, Fla., as a launching pad to turn around what's been a lackluster and unpredictable season to date. Instead, Donald "Toot" Cahoon's charges fell back into a familiar-but-frustrating pattern of on-again, off-again performances, following up Thursday's scintillating win over ECAC Hockey power Cornell with a humbling 5-2 loss on Friday to Hockey East rival Maine (8-7-2; 5-6-1 HE) in the Florida College Classic championship game.
The Minutemen (6-8-4; 2-6-3 HE) found themselves down 2-0 before the game was five minutes old, thanks to strikes by Maine's Joey Diamond (3:04) and Brian Flynn (4:54). Minuteman T.J. Syner got one back for UMass with his ninth of the season at 7:36 of the second, but Black Bear Mark Antoine potted the eventual game-winner just two minutes later past UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle (27 saves).
UMass again cut Maine's lead to one when Conor Allen lit the lamp at 8:35 of the third, but any chance that the Minutemen would collect some much-needed hardware, and momentum, faded when Maine's Matt Mangene buried his fourth of the season at 12:16. Black Bear captain Flynn erased any doubt with his empty-net goal at 18:33. UMass lost its composure after Flynn's insurance marker, with both Syner and Allen getting tossed from the game on misconduct calls.
Maine's Dan Sullivan backstopped the Black Bears' win with 17 saves, including 10 in the second period. Cahoon, and his Minutemen, meanwhile, were left to wonder what it would take to save their season.
UMass Lowell nips UConn in OT
No. 17 UMass Lowell (12-5-0; 7-4-0 HE) may have taken their Atlantic Hockey hosts Connecticut a shade too lightly in the finals of the UConn Holiday Tournament in Storrs, CT, and the Huskies nearly made the River Hawks pay. Norm Bazin's squad held a commanding 3-0 lead by 14:10 of the second period on goals by Scott Wilson, David Vallorani and Terrence Wallin. But the Huskies began chipping away, starting with Billy Latta's tally at 18:26 of the second. UConn then deadlocked the game in dramatic fashion, scoring twice within 11 seconds at 1:47 and 1:58 of the third (Cody Sharib and Latta again). Lowell's Doug Carr and UConn's Garret Bartus each recorded six saves in the final stanza to send the game into overtime, where Bartus (12 saves) was immense. However, he couldn't stop Vallorani's second goal of the game at 13:01 of the sudden-death session, which allowed the River Hawks to bring home the trophy.
St. Lawrence edges Merrimack in shootout
In the opening round of the Ledyard National Bank Classic at Dartmouth, No. 7 Merrimack (10-3-3; 7-2-0 HE) got into an old-fashioned roller coaster match against St. Lawrence (7-10-1), but eventually lost in a shootout to miss out on the championship game on Saturday. The Warriors have to see the game as a missed opportunity, after jumping out to a 3-0 lead against the Saints on two goals by Brendan Brodhag and a strike by Jesse Todd. But the Saints rang up the next five goals, giving St. Lawrence a 5-3 margin after two. The Warriors regrouped, and tied the game on Kyle Singleton's first career goal at 8:40 or the third, and Shawn Bates' tally two minutes later. SLU's George Hughes made it 6-5 with the Saints third power-play strike at 12:25, but Bates kept the Warriors in the match with his second of the night, tying the game at 6-6. After a scoreless overtime, it took nine rounds of penalty shots before Chris Martin put the game-winner past Merrimack's Joe Cannata. The Warriors hit three posts in the shootout, and will have to settle for the consolation game Saturday against Holy Cross.
Northeastern edges Princeton in shootout
In Minneapolis, Northeastern (7-7-3; 4-7-2 HE) also went to a shootout against Princeton (4-9-3) after a 3-3 tie after overtime, but came out on the winning side on the ledger on Justin Daniels eighth-round strike. The win allowed the Huskies to slip into the finals of the Mariucci Classic against Minnesota (a 5-1 winner over Niagara) on Saturday. But despite a razor-thin margin on the scoreboard, the game was tilted in the favor the Huntington Hounds, who registered a 41-26 shot differential. The difference was Princeton's Mike Condon, who registered 38 saves through overtime. The teams were deadlocked 1-1 after one, and following a scoreless middle stanza each scored two goals in the final frame to send the game into overtime. Northeastern's Braden Pimm gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead at 11:17, but Princeton's Kevin Ross knotted the game a minute later with a power-play strike. After a scoreless overtime, the teams went through seven rounds of penalty shots without a goal. After Daniels finally beat Condon in Round 8, NU goaltender Chris Rawlings sealed the win by stuffing Princeton's Aaron Kesselman.
BC edges Michigan Tech
In Detroit, No. 3 Boston College (13-7-0; 9-4-0 Hockey East) salvaged a measure of pride, edging Michigan Tech, 2-1, in the consolation game of the Great Lakes Invitational. Bouncing back from Thursday's 4-2 loss to No. 20 Michigan, the Eagles got goals from Chris Kreider (13) and Brian Dumoulin (3) to subdue the Huskies (9-11-1). Kreider tallied first, but Michigan Tech's Dennis Rix knotted the game at 15:10 of the opening period. After a scoreless second stanza, Dumoulin buried the game-winner at 10:40 of the third, and junior Parker Milner (24 saves) barred the door the rest of the way to give the Eagles win No. 13 on the season. However, the results remained in doubt until a lengthy video review determined that an apparent game-tying goal with only 29 seconds left came off a high stick, and was disallowed. The Eagles return to action Jan. 8 against Merrimack.
Harvard ties North Dakota
In non-tournament action in Grand Forks, the Harvard Crimson (4-4-4; 3-3-2 ECAC) proved to be a resilient opponent, taking the North Dakota Fighting Sioux (9-8-2; 7-7-0 WCHA) to overtime before settling for a 4-4 stalemate. Crimson power-play marksman Patrick McNally got Harvard on the board first with his fourth of the season at 15:13 of the first. However, North Dakota blitzed coach Ted Donato's squad with two rapid-fire strikes just 14 seconds apart to open the second period (Nick Mattson at 1:25, and Brendan O'Donnell at 1:39). Harvard's Alex Killorn tied the game with his seventh of the season at 2:55, but the Sioux finished the period up 4-2 on goals by Mattson and Connor Gardner. The Crimson dug deep in the third, and knotted the game on tallies three minutes apart by Alex Fallstrom (10:16) and Marshall Everson (13:16). North Dakota had the decided edge in overtime thanks to an Everson penalty, recording a 4-0 advantage in shots on goal, but couldn't get the game-winner past Harvard's Steve Michalek. The two teams square off again on Saturday.