March 23, 2007
East Regional | First Round
All For One at UMass
UMass eventually upended Clarkson, while special teams lifted Maine past St. Cloud

By Joe Gladziszewski

Massachusetts 1,
Clarkson 0 OT
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

No Scoring

Second Period

No Scoring
Third Period
No Scoring
Overtime
1-MA Kevin Jarman (9) EV
7:40 J. Virtue, W. Ortiz
Goaltending
MA: Jon Quick, 67:40, 33 saves, 0 GA
CLK: David Leggio, 67:40, 37 saves, 1 GA
Penalties: MA 6/12; CLK 6/12
Power Plays: MA 0-4; CLK 0-4
Attendance: 3,887

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The letters EO are printed on the Massachusetts hockey workout t-shirts and the abbreviation represents the phrase "each other."

That's what motivates this Minutemen team, one that is concerned about playing well for the guys seated next to them on the bench, in the dressing room, and on the bus.

In just its first ever NCAA Tournament, the Minutemen aren't thinking about the team's latest strides, or it's second-ever appearance in the Hockey East championship weekend. It's not about history, it's about the present. And that mindset served Massachusetts well on Friday in a 1-0 overtime win over top-seeded Clarkson at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.

"It's something we talk about in the locker room, we're doing it for each other and it's about each other," Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon said.

Kevin Jarman started the play that led to the game-winning goal behind the Clarkson net, leaving a pass for Will Ortiz. His wraparound attempt was stopped, but squirted to the weak side where center Jordan Virtue had a backhand attempt, and Jarman roofed the rebound at 7:40 of overtime.

"The constant theme for our team all year has just been to stay in the present, stay in the moment, and let the chips fall where they may," Jarman said.

Massachusetts' overall discipline to stay within a system, relying on a teammate on the ice instead of trying to do too much in a scoreless game, helped UMass advance to Saturday's East Regional final.

"Our team understands how simple the game can be and it becomes even more simple when the game gets to be in the late stages and you know that the first goal scored will either be in overtime or if it's going to be in regulation it's going to be a hard goal to overcome," Cahoon said.

"By keeping it simple and not overhandling the puck, you try to create an extra player on the ice by letting your voices be your teammates' eyes and try to simple things like that to make the game a little easier for you. Put the puck in safe places and work, grind, and get the puck to the cage."

The Minutemen were content to generate their offensive chances via Clarkson turnovers. Once UMass lost possession in the offensive zone, the forwards retreated toward the neutral zone and defensemen backed off toward their own blueline. That forced Clarkson to make long breakout passes and the Golden Knights were rarely able to come into the offensive zone with speed.

In turn, Clarkson regularly dumped the puck deep into the UMass zone and pressured the Minutemen defensemen while they retrieved the puck. UMass handled that pressure and didn't turn the puck over.

"They are a pretty good counter team, very patient, and they look for you to make mistakes. They got the one that counted," Clarkson coach George Roll said.

Clarkson goalie David Leggio made 37 saves, and UMass goalie Jon Quick made 33 saves to earn the shutout.

Maine 4, St. Cloud State 1
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-SC Justin Fletcher (6) EV
3:39 M. Stephenson
1-ME Brent Shepheard (8) PP
7:21 M. Léveillé, T. Purcell
2-ME Billy Ryan (13) EV
8:11 M. Hamilton, T. Purcell
3-ME Michel Léveillé (19) PP
14:08 M. Lundin, T. Purcell

Second Period

4-ME Rob Bellamy (1) EV
17:08 B. Shepheard, D. de Kastrozza
Third Period
No scoring
Goaltending
ME: Ben Bishop, 60:00, 33 saves, 1 GA
SC: Bobby Goepfert, 58:29, 17 saves, 4 GA
Penalties: ME 11/22; SC 7/14
Power Plays: ME 2-5; SC 0-9
Attendance: 3,887

SPECIALISTS LEAD MAINE

By getting two power-play goals and killing off nine short-handed situations, the Maine Black Bears got back in the win column on Friday night in Rochester. Maine's first goal, which erased a suspect goal allowed by Ben Bishop early in the first period, came on a power play rush when Brent Shepheard centered the puck from behind the net and it deflected in off of St. Cloud State goalie Bobby Goepfert's skate.

A goal by Billy Ryan put Maine in front, and then the biggest point in the game helped the Black Bears. Back-to-back minor penalties against Rob Bellamy and Josh Soares gave St. Cloud State a two-man advantage for 1:19.

Equal parts preparation and execution were the recipe for short-handed success. The Black Bears and Ben Bishop were prepared for St. Cloud State's power play, but did the job on the ice making initial saves, and clearing the front of the net.

"I think our defense did a much better job in this game than they had in the previous few of protecting Bish and limiting second shots," Maine coach Tim Whitehead said.

The Huskies were able to set up in the Maine zone, but fired some shots wide of the net and Maine cleared the puck efficiently. Throughout the game, defensemen Mike Lundin and Travis Ramsey were forces in front of the crease.

"Those two guys are elite defenders. I'm just really impressed with their consistency and they've been like that all year on the penalty kill," Whitehead said.

Every good penalty-killing effort is spearheaded by good goaltending, and that was no exception in this game. Ben Bishop made 18 of his 34 saves while the Black Bears were short-handed.

Minutes after killing off those two first-period penalties, Michel Leveille fired a point shot through traffic and into the net to give the Black Bears a 3-1 lead.

Maine's special teams were special indeed.

SEEN AND HEARD AT BLUE CROSS ARENA

INCH's Three Stars of the Night

3. David Leggio, Clarkson
The Golden Knights' goalie made 13 saves in the first period and kept his team tied through 20 minutes when they were outplayed. He made the initial stop all game long, and his teammates did a great job of tying up sticks and clearing loose pucks … until Kevin Jarman's overtime-winner.

2. Brent Shepheard, Maine
The senior winger scored Maine's first goal by centering the puck from behind the net. It deflected in off of Bobby Goepfert's skate. Shepheard also did the dirty work in front of the net, screening Goepfert on Maine's third goal.

1. UMass defensemen
By sticking to the game plan and handling Clarkson's forechecking pressure, the Minutemen blueliners kept the Golden Knights off the scoreboard. Great job: Mark Matheson, Mike Kostka, David Leaderer, Justin Braun, Topher Bevis and John Wessbecker.

• Clarkson fans outnumbered the UMass supporters in the early semifinal and the Clarkson Pep Band provided some life to a mostly empty building.

• UMass goalie Jon Quick stopped two low shots from Nick Dodge and Steve Zalewski on a third-period power play to keep the game scoreless. Clarkson's David Leggio made his best saves on a similar play in the same goal crease in the second period.

• St. Cloud's Matt Stephenson left the ice with an injury in the second period but returned to play the rest of the game.

• Also on the Huskies' injury front, centerman Nate Raduns dressed and played in the semifinal. There was concern that he wouldn't be available after missing most of the WCHA third-place game last Saturday against Wisconsin.

• St. Cloud State was involved with several penalties in the closing minutes, many of which occurred after the whistle. It's not a good reflection on the team's discipline when it closes its season in that fashion.

• Maine's Mike Hamilton crashed the net on both of the Black Bears' first goals. The active centerman loves to play around the crease, and factored indirectly on the first Maine goal and assisted on the second.

• UMass junior defenseman David Leaderer is a native of Rochester, N.Y., and got to play Friday afternoon's game in his hometown.

• All-American goalie and Hobey Baker finalist Bobby Goepfert was not at his best in this one. It was just part of a St. Cloud State performance that left coach Bob Motzko befuddled. "We've never seen that before," he said.

• The first semifinal at the Midwest Regional was won on a power-play goal in overtime, but Steve Piotrowski wasn't there. He administered the early semifinal in Rochester.

• Announced attendance for the first day of the East Regional was 3,887.

PLUSSES AND MINUSES

Sophomore center Jordan Virtue has been a part-time player for the Minutemen through his two years on campus in Amherst. He played in just eight games as a freshman and got his chance to join the lineup late in the season when Mark Matheson shifted from forward to defense to fill in for injured defenseman Martin Nolet. Virtue factored in the game-winning goal.

Ben Bishop responded well after allowing a shaky goal to St. Cloud State's Justin Fletcher early in the first period. He was especially strong late in the third period when the Huskies applied excellent pressure on the power play.

"C'mon guys. Put the biscuit in the hole!" Welcome to the NCAA Tournament, UMass fan. I wonder what they yell at lacrosse games?

When college hockey visits new geographic areas, sometimes the details are missed by the host city. One case in point was the public address announcer's incorrect pronunciation of Michel "La-VEE" throughout the game.

WHAT'S NEXT

Massachusetts won four games in a row against Maine in early March, all played at the Mullins Center. Two concluded the Hockey East regular season and gave UMass the fourth seed in the tournament and bumped Maine to fifth place. That set up a rematch the following weekend and UMass won two straight games in that playoff series by scores of 3-2 and 5-2.

One major difference that the Minutemen will deal with Saturday is the presence of Maine goaltender Ben Bishop in the net. Backup Dave Wilson played in the last four meetings. Bishop's only appearance against UMass this year came back on Oct. 28. Maine won 4-1 and he stopped 16 of 17 shots he faced.

For Clarkson and St. Cloud State, each program took strides toward the top of the ECACHL and WCHA this year. Many talented players could return for both teams, but NHL teams will certainly be active in attempting to sign underclassmen like Andrew Gordon, Andreas Nodl, Steve Zalewski and Shawn Weller.