Massachusetts coach John Micheletto started his post-game press conference the only way one could following an 11-1 loss to Vermont Saturday night: with an apology to those in attendance who came out to watch the Minutemen suffer their worst loss since 1976.
“I certainly need to apologize to our fans,” Micheletto said. “I hope people continue to give us a chance to prove what we’re worth, because tonight was certainly not a good representation of that.”
That statement was followed by a question from a reporter: just how does the third-year coach get his team to regroup for another game against the Catamounts Tuesday night?
Micheletto stared down at the stat sheet in front of him, searching for the right words to summarize what took place over the last 60 minutes on a night when nothing went right for UMass.
The Minutemen went through three different goaltenders, gave up goals on four out of five penalty killing situations, and looked disinterested and disoriented by the middle of the second period.
Roughly 10 seconds later, Micheletto used a mirror as a metaphor, and said it’s up to the players, as competitors, to take it upon themselves to overcome such adversity.
“I know when you get the mirror held up in front of you on a bad day, that it’s not pretty to see that mirror looking back at you,” he said. “When you see that image staring back at you, you’ve either got to make some decisions to change what you see, or continue on down that path.
“My experience tells me that most people choose to stare into that abyss and change the way they’re doing it.”
For Vermont, on the other hand, the game couldn’t have gone any better. The Catamounts had 17 different players record points, and scored more goals Saturday than they had in their last four games combined.
“I have not been in a game situation like that,” UVM coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It’s just one of those games where the puck had eyes and found ways to go in in different ways.”
Malcolm McKinney led the Catamounts with a hat trick, while six other players had multi-point nights.
Brody Hoffman quietly led UVM in net, stopping 28 of 29 UMass shots for the win.
Sneddon lauded Hoffman’s efforts, especially in a first period in which he made 10 saves.
“I want to reiterate, we were lucky to be up 3-0 after the first period,” Sneddon said. “(Hoffman) made some saves throughout the game. UMass is a great team and had some great chances early on. He had as big a part in the win as the guys who put up the big numbers.”
Brady Shaw began the rout 9:36 into the first period with his third goal of the season on a shot that got a piece of Minutemen starting goalie Steve Mastalerz and wound up in the back of the net.
The Catamounts doubled their lead three minutes later on a power-play goal by Alexx Privitera, who scored just 12 seconds after Shane Walsh received a two-minute minor and 10-minute misconduct for charging.
Mastalerz’s rough night got even worse at 14:11 when Anthony Petruzzelli scored an ugly goal on what appeared to be a misplay in net. Mastalerz corralled the puck into his body on the initial shot, but it somehow squirted through and ended up in the UMass goal to make it 3-0 Vermont.
The Minutemen brought Henry Dill into the game to start the second period, but the freshman couldn’t slow down the Catamounts, either, as UVM added three more in the middle frame to extend its lead to 6-1.
Kevin Irwin scored the first tally of the period on a rebound off his own shot at 5:45. UMass got on the board on a goal by Ben Gallacher on an odd-man rush with Zack LaRue, but the Catamounts countered just over a minute later when Mario Puskarich buried a rebound after Colin Markison’s initial shot deflected off the pad of Dill.
McKinney made it 6-1 UVM with a highlight-reel goal in which he went forehand to backhand to deke out a UMass defenseman and lift the puck top shelf over Dill.
Mike Paliotta scored his third of the season with a shot from the point on a two-man advantage. Shaw beat Dill five-hole 51 seconds later for his second of the game.
Dill was pulled in favor of Alex Wakaluk after the goal, but the sophomore was no better, giving up three goals on six shots.