UMass Hockey (8-6-3, 5-4-1 Hockey East) left Minnesota with a fourth-place finish at the Dodge Holiday Classic after Saturday afternoon's 5-2 loss to Alabama-Huntsville (6-13-1, 3-7-0 CHA) at Mariucci Arena. Seniors Mark Matheson and Matt Anderson scored the goals for the Minutemen, but the Chargers scored four unanswered to take the game.
In the consolation game of the 2006 Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., it was Alabama-Huntsville that struck first, scoring just 1:28 into the game. Kevin Morrison was credited with his fourth of the season, taking the shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle to the left of Dan Meyers, beating him stick side.
After consecutive penalties for slashing and holding to the Chargers, UMass was afforded 39 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey and made good at 8:15 with Mark Matheson's ninth of the season and second in as many games. His nine goals triples his previous season-best of three as a junior and the former defenseman now has two more tallies than his three previous seasons combined. The goal was assisted by Chris Capraro.
The Minutemen got into some penalty trouble in the second half of the stanza as John Wessbecker was called for holding and slashing at 11:42 and 16:07, respectively. UAH regained the one-goal lead with 5:13 remaining in the first, capitalizing on a tough rebound in front of Meyers. Tom Train took the initial shot that rebounded out to Kevin Galerno who had an open net, with Dominik Rozman also being credited with an assist.
A power play goal came at 17:53, a shot by Mike Salekin from the blueline, tipped in by Brett McConnachie. David Nimmo also assisted on the play that gave Alabama-Huntsville the 3-1 lead heading into the middle period.
Head Coach Don Cahoon pulled the rookie Meyers for the remainder of the game, with Jon Quick taking over in period two. It marked the first time that Quick would enter a game this season as a backup, with the last time coming on February 4, 2006 at UMass Lowell.
The Chargers, however, opened up a three-goal cushion with a shorthanded goal at 6:26 of the second. Morrison took advantage of a Minuteman turnover and skated in 2-on-1, waiting for Quick to commit before sliding the puck in for the 4-1 score. Steve Center made it 5-1 at 9:50.
UMass found renewed energy and style of play in the final 20 minutes, but it was not enough to overcome the four-goal deficit. Matt Anderson chipped away at it and got on the board at 1:49 of the third with a power play goal scored from the side of the crease, taking the pass from Kevin Jarman. Minnesota native Justin Braun also assisted on the goal that made it 5-2.
Neither team would add to the scoreboard throughout the remainder of the game. Overall, shots were 38-28 in favor of the Minutemen. UMass was 2-for-8 on the power play, UAH was 1-for-4. Dan Meyers made eight saves in the first 20 minutes and Jon Quick followed with 15 in the remaining two periods.
The Mass Attack returns to league play the weekend of January 5 with a home- and-home series against Merrimack. Saturday's game will be played in Amherst at the Mullins Center. For tickets call 1-866-UMASS TIX or log on to umassathletics.com.