AMHERST, Mass. - A two-goal second period and 26 saves from Steve Mastalerz paved the way for a 4-2 win for the UMass hockey team over New Hampshire on Saturday night at the Mullins Center. The win coupled with a loss by Northeastern moved the Minutemen back into a tie for 8th place, and the final playoff spot, in the Hockey East standings.
The win improves UMass to 12-15-5 overall and 8-13-4 in Hockey East, while New Hampshire falls to 14-16-3 overall and 11-13-2 in league play.
Four different Minutemen scored goals for UMass, while Danny Hobbs was the lone skater with a multi-point night with a pair of assists.
New Hampshire was led by Kevin Goumas who created a pair of turnovers which led to both Wildcat goals.
The Wildcats jumped on the scoreboard first as Stevie Moses put home a Goumas rebound for a short-handed goal at the 4:50 mark of the first period. Goumas forced a turnover at the UMass blueline, but Mastalerz denied his scoring bid. Moses picked up the loose rebound for his second short-handed goal of the year.
Kevin Czepiel tied the game 1-1 at the 10:15 mark with an all-out effort goal. Eric Filiou worked the puck behind the UNH goal coming around the left side for the wrap-around attempt. Casey DeSmith (28 saves) and the defense closed down to prevent Filiou from scoring, but Czepiel worked in the middle of the scrum to jam home the puck.
Back-to-back UMass goals in the second period gave the Minutemen a 3-1 lead as Michael Marcou and Joel Hanley scored.
Marcou's tally came at the 1:15 mark as he pinched down to put home another rebounded puck after a Hobbs shot was saved by DeSmith. Just over two minutes later, Hanley cycled through the right face-off circle taking a feed from Patrick Kiley which he wristed home for the 3-1 lead.
New Hampshire cut the deficit to one with 3:23 left in the 2nd period when Kevin Goumas forced a UMass turnover behind the Minutemen's goal. After collecting the puck, he slid a pass to Nick Sorkin for his ninth goal of the season.
The third period was fairly even as both teams searched for the make-or-break goal. Conor Sheary put home a terrific pass from Branden Gracel on a two-on-one as Gracel waited until the defense fully committed to his side before hitting Sheary at the 17:48 mark.
UMass outshot New Hampshire 32-to-28 for the game, but both teams were scoreless on the power play.