UMass Hockey splits the weekend series with Northeastern, picking up the win on Senior Night

The Minutemen finish off their last home game of the season victorious, now set their sights on Maine.

The UMass Minutemen started out this past weekend’s doubleheader at the Mullins Center with a bang against the successful Northeastern; but lost game two at Matthews Arena in Boston. It was the final game at home for six UMass players. They were honored with a postgame ceremony after a big win. 

“That was a great way for the seniors to go out, their last game at Mullins,” said Head Coach Greg Carvel. “I tell you what, it felt like UMass hockey tonight and we haven’t had that a lot this year.”

Game One

The first game of the doubleheader opened with three straight penalties from the Minutemen. This has been a problem as of late and the Huskies capitalized. Forward Jack Hughes made a great pass to forward Justin Hryckowian who scored on a  forehand-backhand move shooting the puck through the legs of UMass goaltender Cole Brady on the power-play. Shortly after, Minutemen defenseman Elliott McDermott scored his first goal of the season off a stellar pass from senior forward Cal Kiefiuk. This tied the game at one apiece going into the second period.

The Minutemen started off a wild second period on the powerplay and took the lead only 41 seconds into the period on a precision shot by senior forward Reed Lebster. Kiefiuk picked up the assist, his second on senior night. Northeastern responded seven minutes later with a pass across the crease that was tipped home by forward Liam Walsh. Forward Matt Choupani got the assist.

The final goal of the game was scored halfway through the second period by UMass defenseman Scott Morrow on a beautiful breakaway goal. Graduate student Matt Koopman and senior Jerry Harding got the assists. The Minutemen hung on in the third period, effectively beating the No. 15 ranked Northeastern Huskies 3-2.

Brady stopped 22 of 24 Huskies’ shots in his best game on the season. It was the most physical UMass has played all year. Harding, Kiefiuk, and Koopman were among the most physical players. Northeastern could not respond to the intensity that the Minutemen held on senior night.

Game Two

The second game, this time at Matthews Arena, did not go so well for the Minutemen. The men in maroon have struggled all year long on the road and Saturday night was no different. The Huskies upped the physicality on UMass, which the Minutemen could not match.

“It was a bit of a frustrating game after last night when I really liked the way we played,” said Carvel after the game. “We had a lot of guys who looked a little gassed, maybe last night was a little emotional with senior night for us.”

The final score was 4-0 Huskies. Northeastern goalie Devon Levi had a bounce back game, saving all 32 Minutemen shots. Odd man rushes were the story of the game, the UMass defense had trouble preventing them, leaving Brady out to dry in net. However, the Minutemen should be happy with their performance this past weekend, getting a win after a tough doubleheader against Boston College the week before. UMass will look to have a similar outcome against the Maine Black Bears next weekend.

Maine Season Finale

The 15-13-5 Black Bears are on a month-long hot streak. They are coming off of a big weekend sweep over the BC Eagles and have not lost a game in regulation since Feb. 3 against Boston University. This hot streak includes not only wins over BC, but also Providence and Merrimack. The Minutemen are in for another tough weekend of hockey.

Maine players like forward Lynden Breen and forward Ben Poisson are lethal on offense. Breen’s 17 goals on the year are good for 23rd most in the country; he has a total of 30 points, averaging just under one point a game. Breen was also just named the Hockey East player of the month, as he scored six goals and picked up four assists all in the month of February. In goal, it is junior Victor Ostman holding down the fort with a 2.05 GAA and a .926 SV%. Ostman is ranked sixth in the country for both goals against average and save percentage.

The Minutemen will have to step it up if they want any chance at even taking one game in Maine. They will need their regulars to make an impact. Skaters like forward Kenny Connors and defenseman Ryan Ufko are candidates to pick up the slack. Between the pipes, Brady has started the last three games for the Minutemen, averaging 2.93 goals against in that time. At this point in the season, Coach Carvel could choose anyone to start. Sophomore Luke Pavicich and junior Henry Graham are always candidates.

The Minutemen’s 2-8-1 record while away this season is not pretty. However, there is a lot on the line in these two games. If UMass miraculously wins both games in regulation, that would improve their in-conference seed by at least two spots going into the Hockey East Tournament. The odds are against the Minutemen, but they will be looking to go out with a bang after a tough season.

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