Rocco Carzo worked along the boards midway through the second period, battling for the puck in his own zone. After showing the perseverance and reluctance to give up that is so vital in the game of hockey, Carzo finally won the puck, immediately launching it across ice to a streaking Troy Power. Power maneuvered his way through the neutral zone into Providence territory, and laid a nice pass off to Colin Shea, who netted his first goal of the season 7:28 into the second period. The University of Massachusetts had just increased their lead to 2-0.
In front of a crowd of 4,204, the Minutemen (3-4-0, 2-4-0 HEA) put together their most complete performance of the season, beating Providence (4-4-1, 3-3-0 HEA), 4-0, at the Mullins Center in Amherst Friday night.
While it may have looked like UMass’s most complete performance to the rest of us, to head coach John Micheletto, it was just another game for his team.
“It’s funny I don’t know that we were much different tonight than we have been on any other night. We converted a few more of our opportunities and managed our mistakes a hair better.”
Although the Minutemen were held scoreless in the first period, they did outshoot the Friars, 9-4, and had plenty of scoring opportunities.
When the second period came around, the Minutemen were sure to capitalize on their opportunities, scoring three goals in the second twenty minutes, none more important than forward Michael Pereira’s.
Pereira, who led the Minutemen in goals last season, with 17, had been held scoreless through his first six games. Finally for the junior, at the 4:27 mark of the second period, a weight was lifted off his shoulders.
“Not that it was on my mind in the first place, I just wanted to play well,” said Pereira. “Today was the first day that I really felt like I gave what my team needed.”
While Pereira’s struggles certainly have hurt UMass thus far in the young season, coach Micheletto has not been worried, knowing his star player would eventually turn it around.
“Mike’s gone about his business in practice and in games. He hasn’t cut corners, he hasn’t let it impact who he is, so I think he’s handled it very well,” said Micheletto. “We just kind of kept telling him, keep playing the way you’re playing, the opportunity is going to come.”
Not only was Friday night’s contest a huge confidence booster for Pereira, but for the entire UMass team as a whole, who have struggled to hold leads this season.
“In between the second and the third we wanted to prove to people that we could finish hockey games, and I think we did good job of that,” said forward Troy Power. “What happened in the past is something that we’re going to have to put behind us, and use it as a learning experience.”
The Minutemen will look to continue their momentum when they travel to the University of Maine to take on the Black Bears at 7pm next Friday night in Orono.