Folks… Hockey East is back. The University of Massachusetts Minutemen (1-0-0) opened up the 2020-21 Hockey East season with a 5-1 victory over the University of Connecticut Huskies (0-1-0). UMass outshot UConn 46-22, but the game was closer than the scoreline indicates.
Here are some of the big notes from the game:
UMass came out aggressive, held constant momentum
As mentioned, the Minutemen had 46 shots on goal, but 22 of them came in the first period to really set the tone. The offense cooled down until the end of the third period, where they notched three goals to put the final nails in the coffin.
The score was close through 50 minutes of play, but the Minutemen continually held puck possession and never really gave UConn too many chances to settle the puck in the UMass zone. UMass was the better team coming into this matchup, and it showed.
UConn’s Vomacka looked sharp… until he didn’t
Huskies junior goaltender Tomas Vomacka kept his team close for most of the game, as UMass continued to pepper him with shots. Then he allowed three goals in the final 10 minutes.
He did fall apart a bit at the end, but UMass should also be credited with keeping up the relentless attack, and the UConn defense didn’t provide too much help either. It’s also reasonable to expect some rust from a goaltender in his first real game action this year. Expect Vomacka to keep the Huskies in games plenty of times this season.
A lot of penalties
With 11 penalties between both sides, the referees were busy on the whistle. This can indicate sloppy, undisciplined hockey, but a few of the calls seemed questionable.
Vomacka was called for tripping in the second period, but it looked like the UMass skater may have crossed into the crease and got nicked. It didn’t look malicious on either end, but it added to the penalty count.
UMass junior defenseman Colin Felix was also called for a questionable high-sticking late in the third, in which it seemed he collided with a Husky up high, and his stick came up with the momentum, making minimal (if any) contact. The call could have gone either way, but overall the officials seemed to crack down.
With both teams getting back into real action, perhaps more penalties can be expected as teams across Hockey East get adjusted to game speed.
UMass went ballistic from the blueline
Minutemen defensemen Marc Del Gaizo and Matthew Kessel combined for 15 shots on goal; the rest of the team combined for 31. The Minutemen really zoned in on pushing pucks on net from the point.
Getting pucks on net is how you score in hockey, and UMass really took on that mode of attack. They did put together some nice passing sequences, including one that led to the team’s second goal of the game, scored by junior forward Garrett Wait, but the long shots from the point dominated the offensive output.
UConn’s Capone looks like a freshman to watch
UConn didn’t make much noise in the offensive zone, but freshman forward Nick Capone made his presence known in his collegiate debut. Despite not checking in on the scoresheet, the sixth-round pick in last month’s NHL Draft had three shots on goal and drew a penalty that led to a power play chance.
There weren’t many positive takeaways for the Huskies tonight, but Capone looks like he could develop into a solid player up front for UConn.