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Mastalerz backstops UMass to overtime win on senior night

Patrick Lee, pictured here against UNH earlier in the season
Patrick Lee, pictured here against UNH earlier in the season
Matt Dewkett

AMHERST -- Momentum swings and emotional highs and lows are always part of hockey games. However, after this weekend, UMass had its share of highs and lows for entire season.

29 seconds after a Providence goal was overturned in the overtime session, Frank Vatrano poked home a loose puck for a 2-1 Minutemen victory over the Friars. Mark Jankowski's potential game-winner sent UMass players' emotions sinking, but the Minutemen got a second wind when it was disallowed.

On the following shift defenseman Brandon Montour rushed the puck into the zone and all the way around behind the net. Despite being hooked he continued the play. Dennis Kravchenko picked up the puck and got it to Troy Power who sent the puck towards net. Frank Vatrano poked the puck the rest of the way into the back of the net for the score that set off a wild celebration.

"It was very special. It's definitely a game I'll never forget. It was good to send out [the seniors] on top," said Vatrano, who now has 17 tallies on the season.

"Probably not," stated UMass senior Oleg Yevenko, when asked if he can remember such an emotional roller coaster. "Not in my career. It's a pretty rare occasion. That was absolutely fantastic."

"I'm happy for our team, really happy for our seniors," said UMass coach John Micheletto, whose team had lost a night before in overtime after blowing a late lead with eight seconds to go.

Maddison Smiley's first goal of the season gave the Minutemen the 1-0 lead with 3:33 to play in the second period. After the Friars had controlled much of the first half of the game, the goal gave the Minutemen some jump in their step. He pushed home a rebound on a prolonged delayed penalty after a shot from Steven Iacobellis.

Similar to Friday night at Schneider Arena, Providence evened the score late in the game. Just about a minute after Steve Mastalerz robbed Brian Pinho on a breakaway, the Friars weren't to be denied. Breaking into the zone Shane Luke centered the puck to Noel Acciari who just had to redirect it past Mastalerz.

Mastalerz, who made 42 saves in his final home game, said it was special to finish his Mullins Center career on such a high note.

"It's definitely good. It's good to go out with Oleg and all the other seniors. It's been a tough four years, but at the same time it's been a great time," said the North Andover, Mass. native.

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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.