BALTIMORE, MD – Johns Hopkins attackmen Zach Palmer and Brandon Benn combined for six goals and seven assists and the Blue Jay defense held UMBC scoreless for nearly 26 minutes midway through the game as the Blue Jays set up next week’s showdown with Syracuse with a 12-5 victory over the Retrievers in the third game of the 2012 Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on Saturday. The second-ranked Blue Jays improve to 6-0 with the victory, while UMBC slips to 2-3 with the loss.
After the teams traded goals to open the game, the Blue Jays’ Rob Guida ignited a 9-1 run that bridged the first and fourth quarters to turn the early deadlock into a 10-2 Blue Jay advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Guida’s goal, which came with 5:27 remaining in the first quarter, was followed by the first of Benn’s three goals on the day early in the second. The Retrievers had a golden opportunity to draw even when Hopkins was flagged for a two-minute non-releasable penalty with just under 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter and did slice the deficit to one on an extra-man goal by Scott Hopmann just 34 seconds into the man advantage, but the Blue Jays were able to kill off the remaining 86 seconds and stretched their one-goal lead to four by halftime.
Palmer’s second goal of the game midway through the second quarter was followed 73 seconds later by a strike from junior Lee Coppersmith – off an assist from Palmer – and an unassisted tally by junior John Ranagan in the final two minutes made it 6-2 at the half.
The four-goal lead held for more than 11 minutes in the third quarter, but any hopes of a UMBC comeback were dashed late in the period as the Blue Jays scored four times in a span of just 81 seconds to turn the 6-2 lead into the 10-2 bulge.
Junior John Kaestner’s fourth goal in the last three games jump-started the spree, which also included a pair of Benn goals wrapped around Palmer’s third of the game. In all, Palmer had a hand in six of JHU’s nine goals during the 9-1 run as he scored the two goals and added four of his career-high-tying five assists during the spree.
The teams alternated goals in the fourth quarter to account for the 12-5 final. The Retrievers’ Scott Jones scored all three UMBC goals in the final period with Mark Goodrich and Ranagan adding goals in the final 15 minutes for the Blue Jays.
Palmer’s eight points are a career high and led the way for Hopkins, which also got a career-high five points from Benn. The duo connected for four goals together as Benn assisted on two of Palmer’s three goals, while Palmer got the helper on two of Benn’s career-high-tying three goals. Hopkins’ starting attack of Palmer, Benn and Kaestner combined for seven goals and eight assists in the victory.
While Palmer and Benn grabbed the headlines, the Blue Jay defense turned in another workmanlike effort as UMBC’s only two goals in the first thee quarters were extra-man tallies. When Jones scored the first of his three goals just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter it ended a streak of 116:37 that Hopkins had gone without allowing an even-strength goal.
Jones led the Retrievers with his three goals and Joe Lustgarten added three assists, but UMBC’s first midfield shot just 1-of-11 and the team’s non-starters managed just one goal. Adam Cohen was solid in goal for the Retrievers as he posted 12 saves, but JHU outshot UMBC 25-11 in the second and third quarters combined and scored on eight of those shots to put the game away.
Johns Hopkins will welcome Syracuse to Homewood Field next Saturday for the 50th all-time meeting between the two schools. Game time is set for 4 pm.