The UMass Minuteman hockey team dropped its season opener to No. 12 Michigan State Friday afternoon, 3-1 at the Icebreaker Tournament at Agganis Arena. The Spartans received goals from three different players, while Brian Keane scored the lone Minuteman goal with 7:06 left to play in the third period. UMass (0-1-0) will take on No. 4 North Dakota in a Saturday matinee at 4:30 PM.
The Minutemen were awarded six power plays throughout the course of the game, but they unable to capitalize on their man advantages. Michigan State (1-0-0) was 1-for-2 on the power play. Dan Meyers got the start in goal for UMass, making 13 saves. UMass outshot the Spartans 37-16, including a 13-0 advantage in the third period.
UMass opened up the first period with lots of physicality, and carried it throughout the period. When James Marcou took a boarding penalty 1:03 into the frame, Michigan State had several chances to take an early lead, but Meyers was up to the task, denying the Spartans with a huge save on the doorstep. One second after Marcou's penalty expired, Michigan State took a 1-0 lead when Andrew Rowe banged home a loose puck in the crease. Meyers saved the original shot from Daultan Leveille, but the rebound squirted out and onto Rowe's stick.
After the goal, UMass seemed to carry the play for the remainder of the period, generating multiple scoring opportunities on Lerg. The Minutemen were awarded three power plays during the opening stanza, but they were not able to take advantage of them. Massachusetts nearly tied the score when Marcou attempted to thread a pass across the ice to Chris Davis, but a Michigan State defenseman got his stick in the passing lane and broke up the play. UMass' best chance of the period came when Marcou toe-dragged around a Michigan State defender, but his shot was deflected above the net. UMass finished the period outshooting the Spartans 13-7.
Michigan State netted two goals during the second period, giving the Spartans a 3-0 lead heading into the locker room. The Spartans scored their first goal of the period 51 seconds into the frame when Jeff Petry dropped a pass to Leveille at the point. Leveille shot the puck from the blue line, and it was deflected by Andrew Conboy past Meyers for the score.
Following the goal Massachusetts created some chances of their own, but Lerg was up to the task. The Spartans nearly extended their lead to three when Conboy took a one timer from the point, but Meyers went post to post to deny the scoring chance.
UMass' best chance of the period came when Justin Braun took a one timer from the blue line that was saved by Lerg. The rebound popped out to Alex Berry on the doorstep, but the puck hopped over his stick. Michigan State closed out the period when Matt Schepke banged home a rebound in front of the net to extend the Spartan lead to three.
Massachusetts prevented the Spartans from taking any shots on goal during the third period by applying pressure to the Michigan St. defense and created lots of chances. Marcou created several chances throughout the final frame, but Lerg made numerous saves to keep the shutout intact. The Minutemen finally got on the board with seven minutes to play in the frame when Keane netted his first goal of the year. Keane skated around a defender and flung a backhand towards the net. The puck hit Lerg and Keane was knocked into the net, but the puck had already trickled in.