Let me start by saying that this past weekend could have gone better for many sports fans at UMass Amherst.
On Saturday night, I went to the UMass v. Merrimack hockey game, which drew 5,000 spectators to the Mullins Center on campus. UMass Dining sponsored an impressive white-out and gave out free white UMass T-shirts to the first thousand students to arrive. It was a close game and a lot of fun to watch.
The Merrimack Warriors were up 1-0 just 3:25 into the game before UMass' Troy Power responded nearly a minute later. Merrimack regained the lead 20 seconds after Power's goal. UMass’ Conor Sheary scored at the 16:13 mark of the first period to tie it up 2-2. In the second period, Merrimack took a 3-2 lead, but soon after, a Merrimack player was received a 5-minute major and a game-misconduct just 41 seconds into the third period, giving UMass’ Joel Hanley the opportunity to score a power play goal 25 seconds into the extended power play and tie up the game 3-3.
There was a nervous excitement in the crowd. A sea of white began cheering even louder than before. The chant that dominated the third period was a classic one. One half of the student section yells “U!” and the other half replies with “MASS!” over and over until loud applause erupts from the stands. Our mascot, Sam the Minuteman, weaved through the stands high-fiving fans. Unfortunately, UMass was unable to score again. With about thirty seconds left in the game, I anticipated overtime play, but Merrimack's Jeff Velleca scored with two seconds left in regulation, resulting in a 4-3 win for the No. 4 Warriors.
UMass (9-12-5, 5-10-4 HEA) will return to action next Friday at No. 3 Boston University before returning to the Mullins Center on Saturday to close out the season series against Providence. Stay up to date on men’s hockey news by visiting the team’s website.
I did end up leaving Mullins Center with some good news, however. Terrell Vinson scored a career-high 21 points and led a season-high shooting for UMass as the Minutemen basketball team defeated George Washington University, 86-75. Congratulations to our men’s basketball team for their win in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night!
Little did I know, more bad news was on its way. I invited Giants fans and Patriots fans to my dorm room to watch the game. Needless to say, things got a little tense. As a Patriots fan, I was frustrated by the loss. Although the group had different NFL allegiance, we were united in our support of UMass Athletics! As a Minutemen fan, it was great to see two former UMass football players, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and James Ihedigbo of the New England Patriots, face each other in Super Bowl XLVI... even if Victor Cruz received a 2-yard pass from Eli Manning to score a touchdown for the Giants.