The UMass hockey team entered last weekend with high hopes, holding the eighth and final playoff spot in Hockey East with two weeks to go.
Now, with just two games remaining, the Minutemen are in desperation mode as they sit on the outside looking in after gaining just one point in what was largely a lost weekend.
With opportunities abound in the first game on Friday night, the Minuemen squandered them, their biggest failure coming in the waning seconds of the game when while holding a 2-1 lead, Steve Mastalerz couldn't control a rebound and Kevin Goumas put it home to tie the game at 2, a score that would stand up through overtime.
The following night, UNH looked like a top-5 team, dominating UMass by a count of 4-0.
It's not over for the Minutemen. Trailing Maine for the final spot by one point, a sweep over Merrimack and a UNH sweep of Maine would be ideal, however, there are some elements of the standings that are in UMass' favor. Should the Minutemen end the regular season in a tie for points with Maine, it would slide into the eighth spot.
According to Hockey East tiebreaker rules, the first tiebreaker would be head-to-head results, which stand at 1-1-1. The second tiebreaker is number of wins in conference play. UMass sports an 8-15-2 league record, while Maine has a 6-12-7 mark.
The one thing the Minutemen can't do is leave any points on the table, which will be tough, given their opponent. Merrimack, who is coming off back-to-back losses to UMass-Lowell, is still theoretically in the hunt for home ice in the first round of the tournament, trailing a red-hot fourth-place Providence team by three points. Merrimack defeated UMass in their only meeting this year by a score of 4-2.
All of this is moot for the Minutemen should UNH falter at home against Maine in what are always hotly contested games. Should Maine sweep, they would clinch a playoff berth automatically.
AIC heads west for AHA tournament
American International College remained one of the hottest teams in the nation with a sweep of Bentley on home ice over the weekend, posting a 7-1-3 record over their last 11 games, including a dramatic win in the regular-season finale.
On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets forced overtime after trailing 3-1 with two goals in the last 11 minutes of regulation. In the extra session, AIC goaltender thwarted a shorthanded bid then was pulled in favor of the extra attacker after the penalty expired. However, AIC took a penalty with 12.7 seconds left that would put them down a man and bring the faceoff into their zone. With the offensive zone faceoff, Bentley left the net empty in favor of the extra attacker ,which proved to be a poor decision.
AIC won the faceoff and in an attempt to clear the puck down the ice, Blake Peake slide the puck down the ice straight into the wide open net with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
AIC also won a 2-1 decision over Bentley the night before on the back of Meisner, who stopped 31 shots and moved into 16th place on the NCAA Division 1 all-time saves list.
While the Yellow Jackets were hoping their efforts would yield home advantage in the opening round of the AHA tournament, AIC finished ninth in the standings and will travel to RIT.
In two games against RIT in November, the Yellow Jackets earned a 2-2 tie and lost 3-0, both games being played on home ice. The schedule for the series has not been released.