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UMass dominates Vermont to advance to Hockey East quarterfinals

  • Jack Suter, left, and goalie Ryan Wischow celebrate UMass’ 5-1 win over Vermont in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, Sunday at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Jake Gaudet, from left, Oliver Chau and Mitchell Chaffee celebrate Chau’s goal against Vermont, Sunday. UMass won 5-1 in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • UMass forward Austin Plevy, left, loses his stick and trips Vermont forward Jarrid Privitera, Sunday at the Mullins Center. UMass won 5-1 in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • UMass defenseman Ivan Chukarov, left, and captain Jake Horton, attempt to take control of the puck against Vermont’s Bryce Misley, right, during Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, Sunday at the Mullins Center. UMass won 5-1 to win the series 2-1 and advance to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • Oliver Chau, right, celebrates with his teammates after he scored a goal in the second period to give UMass a 4-1 lead against Vermont. UMass won 5-1 in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, Sunday at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. J. Anthony Roberts

  • UMass goalie Ryan Wischow reaches out to make a glove save in the second period against Vermont, Sunday. UMass won 5-1 in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. J. Anthony Roberts

  • UMass’ Brett Boeing skates toward the net against Vermont defenseman Matt ODonnell, Sunday. UMass won 5-1 in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. J. Anthony Roberts

  • UMass’ John Leonard maneuvers the puck in for a shot on net against Vermont, Sunday. UMass won 5-1 in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. J. Anthony Roberts

  • UMass celebrates beating Vermont, 5-1, in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, Sunday at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. J. Anthony Roberts

  • UMass’ Jake Gaudet skates in on Vermont goalie Stefanas Lekkas in the first period. Gaudet scored to give UMass a 2-0 lead en route to a 5-1 victory in Game 3 of their Hockey East playoff series, Sunday at the Mullins Center. UMass won the series 2-1. It advanced to play at Northeastern in a best-of-three series starting Friday. J. Anthony Roberts



@MattVautourDHG
Monday, March 05, 2018

AMHERST — For the first two games of UMass’ opening round Hockey East playoff series with Vermont, the result seemed to ride on every shift and every play from the first period straight through overtime.

In the deciding Game 3, the Minutemen eliminated the drama early and delivered the biggest win for the program in a decade. They took momentum from the opening faceoff and never relinquished it, controlling play throughout en route to a dominant 5-1 win in front of 3,626 at the Mullins Center.

“That was a really good hockey series. Vermont played hard. Tonight the difference was we came out in the first period and played the way we needed to which we weren’t able to do in the first two games,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “Our team’s common goal this year was to gain some respect for our hockey program. I think we’ve far exceeded even my hopes for this season. To get home ice and to win a series, we’re kind of in uncharted waters. I’m excited to go in and be an underdog at Northeastern. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Eighth-seeded UMass (17-18-2) will face No. 2 Northeastern in another best-of-three quarterfinal series that begins Friday at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena in Boston.

Sophomore goalie Ryan Wischow started in place of injured Matt Murray and did everything UMass needed of him to put the Minutemen in position to win, making 31 saves. After being part of last year’s 5-29-2 season, Wischow marveled at how far the team had progressed.

“These guys can’t really relate,” he said, gesturing to two freshman teammates joining him in the press conference, “but last year was a really tough year for a lot of us. ... We wanted to do it for the guys who can relate to how tough it’s been. We’re not going to have any more seasons like that going forward.”

In the first two games of the series, Carvel had been frustrated by his team’s lack of early energy. Both nights the Minutemen fell behind 2-0. His message took root on Sunday. They came out with jump in their legs and took control from the beginning.

Mario Ferraro opened the scoring 2:40 into the game. He grabbed the rebound off a John Leonard shot, wheeled clockwise around the back of the net and flipped it past goalie Stefanos Lekkas to make it 1-0.

“That was huge. Mario set the record tonight for the most points by a freshman (defenseman) in UMass history,” said Carvel of Ferraro’s 23 points. “What a great kid. He’s so unassuming. He works his tail off every single shift. It’s an honor to coach that kid. That goal was huge for us to get off on the right foot.”

Jake Gaudet doubled the edge with 10:07 left. Carrying the puck into the zone, he put on a burst of speed to go around the defenseman at the top of the faceoff circle then pivoted hard to the net and flipped the puck past Lekkas to make it 2-0.

Vermont got on the board 4:53 into the second period when Matt O’Donnell scored off a rebound to make it 2-1.

But Austin Albrecht, who has saved his best play for late in his freshman year, scored his fourth goal in the past five games to bring the cushion back to two goals at 3-1 with 10:22 left. Moments later, the Catamounts had a chance to answer but Wischow stoned Max Kaufman from close range.

“I’m very proud of what (Wischow) was able to do for us tonight,” Carvel said. “There were two, three or four times that he made big saves to keep the game in our control.”

Four minutes later Oliver Chau stretched the lead to 4-1 with 7:18 left in the second.

If Chau’s goal didn’t seal it, Leonard’s certainly did. After stealing the puck in the neutral zone, he executed a nifty toe-drag that fooled defenseman Corey Moriarty into overskating the play. Leonard then encored the trick to get Lekkas to commit, and then tucked the puck behind the off-balance goalie to make it 5-1.

After calling Cale Makar’s end-to-end rush on Thursday the season’s prettiest goal, Carvel was forced to reconsider.

“I thought Cale had scored the nicest goal of the year until John scored one tonight which was unbelievable,” Carvel said.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage