UMass Hockey ends the regular season with a stunning sweep over Maine, now sets their sights on Boston College

The Minutemen win three of their last four games just before the start of the Hockey East Tournament.

The UMass Minutemen traveled up to Maine this past weekend and took care of business, winning their first game 5-2 and their second game 4-3 at Alfond Arena. Goaltender Cole Brady stopped 64 of 69 shots, earning himself a .928 SV% over the two games. This is the perfect momentum builder for the Minutemen as they head to Boston College Wednesday night to start the Hockey East Tournament.

Game One

The scoring in Friday night’s game started out quickly as defenseman Scott Morrow hit home a rebound, shot by forward Reed Lebster, only 51 seconds into the game. The only other goal of the period came with five minutes remaining as forward Lynden Breen scored on a backhanded one timer off of a slick pass from forward Thomas Freel. Tied at one apiece, the game would go scoreless until the final frame.

A three goal explosion in the third period by the Minutemen, followed by an empty netter, is what won them this game. Forward Taylor Makar stepped up and scored two of those goals. The other was a first collegiate goal, coming from defenseman Owen Murray. Forward Cal Kiefiuk scored the empty netter that sealed the deal, capping off a huge victory for UMass.

Brady stopped 29 of 31 shots and goalie Victor Ostman only stopped 16 of 21 shots. The Minutemen were able to once again beat one of the best goaltenders in the country. Depth scoring seems to be a must for the Minutemen. If the bottom six forwards keep scoring, UMass will keep winning.

Game Two

The Minutemen got off to a faster start on Saturday’s game, going up 3-0 with 15 minutes remaining in the second period. Two goals came from Kiefiuk, and one came from Morrow. Maine battled back, making the score 3-2 off of goals from forward Nolan Renwick and forward Ben Poisson.

It seemed that another UMass three goal lead was in jeopardy but Minutemen forward Lucas Mercuri extended the lead to 4-2 with over eleven minutes remaining in the third period. However, only 21 seconds later, defenseman Jakub Sirota responded, cutting the Minutemen lead back to one.

Brady and the men in maroon were able to hang on for the final ten minutes. Brady stopped 35 shots and Ostman only stopped 10. The shot totals were not there for the Minutemen, but they were still able to pull off the victory. Morrow earned Hockey East defensive player of the week honors for his contributions. UMass could not have asked for a better end to the season, going on a hot streak just in time for the Hockey East Conference Tournament.

Shipping up to … Chestnut Hill

Wednesday night the Boston College Eagles will host the UMass Minutemen in a No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed battle at the Conte Forum. In the last four games, the Eagles have gone 1-3, opposite of the Minutemen’s 3-1 in the last four. However, the season series was not kind to UMass. BC swept the season series, winning all three games, including the game at Frozen Fenway. The Minutemen will be in for a tough matchup, especially when it comes to the Eagles’ star players.

Forwards Cutter Gauthier and Nikita Nesterenko have been two of the best players in the country. Both have over 30 points on the season. They are quick skaters that will easily be able to make their way around the Minutemen defense if they are not well prepared. In goal, it will be graduate student Mitch Benson. He is currently posting a 2.72 GAA and a .901 SV%. Benson is one of the only weaknesses the Eagles have. If the Minutemen can score the way they did on Ostman, they should be able to score on Benson.

As for UMass, the seniors are starting to step up. Look for Kiefiuk and Lebster to lead the way offensively. They are playing in their last couple of games in the maroon and white, expect them to give it their all as it would mean the world to them to go out on top. Between the pipes it will be Brady. He has brought the Minutemen back to winning ways. If he has a good game, UMass will be moving on to the next round.

With both teams trending in different directions, Wednesday night should prove to be a fierce battle. The Eagles will want to come out swinging, knowing that they have not played well as of late. The Minutemen will want to weather the storm and simply play UMass winning hockey. The fate of the season rests on one game for both teams, it is win or bust.





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