BOSTON – The visiting UMass Minutemen hung tough for the duration of Friday’s Hockey East match-up at Agganis Arena but could not catch up completely as they fell 5-2 to the No. 13 Boston University Terriers in the first head-to-head meeting of the season between the in-state rivals.
Despite the loss to fall to 1-2-0, the Minutemen held a shots on goal advantage in two of the three periods – 30-25 for the entirety of the contest.
The hosts stormed out of the gate in the opening half of the stanza and peppered UMass netminder Steve Mastalerz, a North Andover native, who was making his second start in as many games. At the conclusion of the period, however, the Mass Attack collected an 8-6 shots on goal advantage.
Following the first period, Parker was honored for the start of his 40th season behind the BU bench and was joined on the ice with over 80 of his former players for a special ceremony and presentation.
Things changed quickly in the second period as the host Terriers jumped up with two early goals in the middle period, before UMass cut the deficit headed into the second intermission. The Minutemen held a 12-8 shots advantage in the period and seemed to control the majority of the chances, despite trailing on the scoreboard.
The Terriers went on top at the 0:51 mark of the stanza, thanks to the second goal of the season from senior captain Wade Megan scored his second goal of the season. Megan took a nifty drop pass from sophomore linemate Cason Hohmann and did the rest, weaving his way through the UMass defense and goaltender Steve Mastalerz for the score.
At the 4:45 mark, BU doubled its lead with another even-strength goal as a pair of freshman hooked up on another strong passing sequence. Rookie blue liner Matt Grzelcyk gathered the puck off the feed from junior Sahir Gill and sent the puck forward for classmate Danny O'Regan to tip his first-career goal right in front of the net.
Senior Darren Rowe hit the crossbar with a point shot a few minutes later, but the Minutemen were able to crack the scoreboard for the first time in the contest at 14:57 as junior Branden Gracel beat BU rookie Matt O’Connor with the wrist shot from the left side, after creating a turnover by himself along the boards.
BU went up on a 5-on-3 advantage a couple minutes into the third period and capitalized to cushion the lead with a third goal and the second of the night from O’Regan, a Needham, Mass. native and St. Sebastian’s School product.
At the 4:33 mark, he took another solid pass from Grzelyck and put in his second of the night and of his career, this time on the power play.
At 9:27, the Minutemen clawed back within a 3-2 score with a man-advantage goal of their own. Junior Joel Hanley took a pass from junior Conor Sheary, beating O’Connor low off the shot from the right wing circle.
However, the Terriers were fast to respond at 10:10 as sophomore Cason Hohmann trickled a wrister past Mastalerz for his second goal of the year. Mastalerz, a North Andover, Mass. native, looked to have covered the low shot for a whistle but was unable to hold on, allowing the puck to trickle into the back of the net.
With Mastalerz pulled from the UMass net, Hohmann chipped the puck ahead of the defense and deposited an empty-netter with 50 seconds remaining, giving BU a 5-2 lead and their second win in the season’s first three games.
After just a trio of games, Hohmann, an Arlington, Texas native, has already scored more goals than he did in 35 games last season, including two in one game.
O’Connor earned his second win in as many decisions to open his freshman campaign, posting 28 saves, including 11 in the second period. Mastalerz fell to 0-2-0, despite making 17 stops.
The Terriers will look to win their first season series of the year on Saturday night as the weekend set shifts to Mullins Center for a 7 p.m. start.
Joshua Kummins is the Hockey East beat writer and a weekend editor for SB Nation Boston. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.