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UMass hockey takes down No. 11 Boston University

AMHERST – The University of Massachusetts hockey team put together one of its most complete performances of the season on Friday, cruising to a 5-1 victory over No. 11 Boston University behind two goals from Mike Pereira and a strong performance in net from Kevin Boyle.

UMass’ first line forwards — Pereira (two assists), Branden Gracel (one goal, two assists) and Conor Sheary (one goal, one assist) — dominated play throughout the game.

“It’s good players playing together,” Minutemen coach John Micheletto said. “Since they’ve been together, it’s part of the maturation of the individual components of a three-man unit. Since Christmas time, they’ve been fun to watch and fun to coach. ... The amount of shots they generate and the amount of pressure they put on and the job that they do defending in our own end has been a lot of a fun and a big reason why we’ve played so well since the holiday.”

Pereira drilled home both of his goals, his seventh and eighth of the season, halfway through the third period, extending the UMass (10-12-2, 7-9-1 Hockey East) lead to 5-0.

“I think we’re starting to gel a bit,” he said, “and I think everyone kind of brings something to the table.”

When Pereira and his linemates weren’t putting pressure on the Terriers (13-10-1, 10-7-1) offensively, the talented trio worked to alleviate the stress on their own goaltender, something Micheletto has preached all season.

“One of the real good things tonight, and I think when we’re playing at our best, the thing that we do so well is back pressure the puck with our forwards,” he said.

With the defensive support of his teammates, Boyle, who made his first start since Jan. 11, helped set the tone early for the Minutemen with an impressive save on a breakaway one-on-one with just over four minutes left in the first period. He finished with 19 saves and drew praise from his coach for the way he’s handled the competition for playing time with fellow goaltender Steve Mastalerz.

“I think it’s a good scenario,” Micheletto said. “We’ve talked about it, you’ve got guys who are pushing each other. It creates competition (and) brings out the best in people. One thing that it does, he had fresh legs. So, you know, the combination of rest and competition makes for good things usually. I think you saw the result of it tonight.”

UMass got on the scoreboard with Gracel’s goal, his team-leading 12th of the season, 17:21 into the first period and extended its lead to 2-0 with 1:30 left in the second period following Kevin Czepiel’s sixth score of the season. Sheary tacked on a third goal for the Minutemen, also his sixth, just over five minutes into the final period.

Colin Shea (two), Mike Busillo (one) and K.J. Tiefenwerth also collected assists for UMass.

Ben Rosen scored Boston University’s only goal of the night, his fourth, with only 4:22 left in regulation, ending any hope of a shutout.

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