By Dylan Botelho, Contributing Writer
The men’s ice hockey team finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 17-8-0 overall record and a 12-6-0 record in conference play.
That record secured them the No. 3 seed in last weekend’s MASAC tournement.
The Corsairs entered the MASAC tournament riding high on a five-game winning streak in which they’ve outscored opponents, 20-7.
However, the playoffs are a different demon. In Saturday’s first round tournament game against the No.6 Westfield State Owls, the Corsairs were shutout in a 3-0 loss.
The Owls scored in each of the games three periods, the last being an empty net to seal the victory.
Constant pressure on Corsairs goaltender, Drew Michals, allowed the Owls to control the tempo for the complete sixty minutes.
Being dominated in almost every aspect of the game, it at times seemed impossible for the Corsairs to bounce back.
Westfield State out shot UMASS Dartmouth, 45-34, almost tallying 18 shots in the first period alone.
Scoring opened less than 4 minutes into the game when Westfield’s Francois-Xavier Girard put one past Michals. His goal was followed by a tip-in score by Josh Delezenne in the second period. Sealing the deal with an empty net goal to make it 3-0, was Pearce Vance.
Westfield State’s No.1 conference-ranked penalty kill was an important factor throughout the night.
The Owls stopped UMASS Dartmouth’s power-play on multiple occasions, including a nearly minute long 5-on-3 man advantage.
Tempers flared late in the game between players on opposing sides due to obvious frustration.
As one of the top offenses in the conference, it’s discouraging to not get one past Westfield State goaltender, Jonathan Loparco, who had a middle-of-the pack 2.71 GAA.
This is the second year in a row that the Owls have bounced the Corsairs out of the MASAC tournament.
Westfield State now advances to face No.2 overall seed, Plymouth State at Plymouth State.
Although not the outcome the Corsairs were looking for, this team was one of the best UMASS Dartmouth has seen in recent years.
This season’s team has excelled in multiple areas of their play, breaching the 17-win plateau for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when the Corsairs notched 18 total wins.
The team took time to mold, but once they hit their stride; they were off and running. Half of the Corsairs losses this season came in month of November, as the season began play.
The Corsairs high-powered offense this season was led by Casey Shea, Mike Kelly, and Jerry Laakso who were all in the top-5 for total points in the MASCAC. Shea’s 12 goals and 28 assists placed him atop the MASAC leaderboards with 40 total points.
Overall, UMASS Dartmouth averaged 3.92 goals per game, second only to No.1 seed, Plymouth State’s 4.12 goals per game.
The team’s power-play was a major key to their success. With 29 goals on 129 attempts, the Corsairs held the highest power-play percentage in the conference at 22.5 percent.
With all but four players returning next season, the Corsairs will likely have another stellar season. It’s time now to put this season in the books, and move on to the next one.