UMass Hockey tied twice to the Vermont Catamounts, ultimately winning both games in shootouts

The Minutemen blew two three goal leads in the Vermont doubleheader, they will look to bounce back against Boston College next weekend.

In both games of the doubleheader against the Vermont Catamounts, the Minutemen held two three-goal leads, both of which were given up and sent to shootouts. UMass did came out on top, recording their first shootout wins of the season.

“We played pretty well,” said head coach Greg Carvel post-game. “Built a sizable lead and absolutely gave it away.”

Game One

The first game’s scoring came early in the first period when forward Michael Cameron sniped the top corner on goaltender Oskar Autio while on the penalty kill. Forward Kenny Connors picked up the second goal on a backhander, the freshman’s first goal in ten games. Forward Cal Kiefiuk finished the regulation scoring for UMass courtesy of an incredible pass from forward Reed Lebster and an even better goal for Kiefiuk.

The third period did not go well for the men in maroon. Vermont fired back with three straight goals of their own, tying the game 3-3. Two of the three Catamount goals are ones that UMass goaltender Luke Pavicich probably wants back. However, Pavicich and the Minutemen hung on to win in a shootout.

Game Two

The second game of the doubleheader started slowly with no goals recorded in the first period. In the second frame, defenseman Ryan Ufko got the scoring going for the Minutemen as he rifled a shot past goalie Gabe Carriere. Ufko didn’t stop there. After another UMass goal from forward Cole O’Hara, Ufko got a lucky bounce and the puck found its way to the back of the net, making the UMass lead 3-0 once again. 

Like the weekend’s first game, the Catamounts came back with their own three goals. The second and third Vermont goals were scored only twelve seconds apart. Coach Carvel had seen enough and Pavicich was taken out of the game for backup netminder Henry Graham to come in.

The fireworks were not done there, only thirteen seconds after the game-tying Vermont goal, Ufko scored once again, recording his third goal of the night, completing the hattrick. However, UVM was able to score on Graham, tying the game at four a piece with three minutes remaining. Once again, extra time was needed.

In the final minutes of overtime, Graham made a huge game-saving stop on forward Joel Määttä, keeping the game tied and sending it to a shootout. Graham made two more saves in the shootout, and unsurprisingly, Ufko got the game-winner in the shootout. That capped off an unbelievable night for the sophomore defenseman, as he recorded the first hat trick for a UMass defensemen since 2011.

It was a wild weekend for UMass Hockey to say the very least. The scoring took a step up but the goaltending took a step back. Pavicich let in 6 goals on 47 shots. It all comes back to playing the full sixty minutes a night. Playing well only two out of three periods is not going to cut it. The Minutemen need to take it one period at a time and find a way to get a full sixty minute effort in.

Up Next: BC

Another doubleheader will take place this weekend, but this time UMass will go up against Boston College. The Eagles are coming off of a big win against the conference-best Boston University Terriers for third place in the Beanpot Tournament. The win improved their record to 10-12-6 on the season. This is not the first time that the Minutemen and the Eagles have met this year, with the first coming at Frozen Fenway, a 4-2 UMass loss. 

This is not an easy matchup for the men in maroon, they will need all hands on deck if they want any chance at even splitting the series with the Eagles. BC players like freshman forward Cutter Gauthier and sophomore forward Nikita Nesterenko are dangerous scorers, as they are the top two in points for their team.

One of the soft spots for the Eagles is their goaltending. Graduate student Mitch Benson is the starting backstop. He has started in all 28 games for Boston College and is currently posting a 2.70 GAA and a .901 SV%. The more shots on goal the better for the Minutemen, pucks will get by this goalie.

As for UMass, look for Henry Graham to potentially start one of the two games, as Pavicich struggled against Vermont. On offense, look for the freshmen to continue to shine. Forwards like Cole O’Hara, Connors, and Cameron all will need to play a huge role for the Minutemen in this upcoming doubleheader.

The doubleheader starts on Friday in Chestnut Hill at the Conte Forum then heads to Amherst the following day. With the Eagles up only two points on the Minutemen in the Hockey East standings, this is one of the most important series for both teams all season.

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