No. 7 UMass outplays UConn to win season opener 5-1

  • UMass sophomore forward Cal Kiefiuk, right, celebrates his first-period goal with goalie Matt Murray, Friday night at the Mullins Center. Freshman center Josh Lopina, center, had an assist on the play. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass sophomore forward Cal Kiefiuk, left, celebrates his first-period goal with teammates, Friday night at the Mullins Center. Freshman center Josh Lopina, right, had an assist on the play. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass goalie Matt Murray finished with 21 saves as the Minutemen beat UConn, 5-1, in its season opener at the Mullins Center, Friday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Sports Editor
Published: 11/20/2020 9:42:35 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 9:42:22 PM

UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel spoke in the preseason about wanting his team to win games with defense.

The seventh-ranked Minutemen took the message to heart in their opener against UConn. UMass held the Huskies in check en route to a 5-1 victory at a fan-less Mullins Center.

“I thought we were really solid throughout 60 minutes, really never felt like the momentum was shifted against us,” Carvel said. “I think we were fortunate that we made it through this entire fall without any shutdowns, which allowed us to continue pushing our players and we looked like we were game-shape ready.”

The Huskies were 0-for-5 on the power play with limited opportunities. They had only 22 shots on goal.

“I thought a lot of their chances were when we should have been able to check and keep the game in front of us and we either stumbled or fell down, and it seemed like they got a lot of rush chances when that happened,” Carvel said.

UMass put the game away with three goals in the third period, including two in the final three minutes.

Minnesota transfer Garrett Wait scored his first goal in a Minuteman sweater early in the second period to break a 1-1 tie. Wait slid down the slot and took a feed from Oliver Chau before beating goalie Tomas Vomacka (41 saves) less than three minutes into the frame.

UConn had a chance midway through the second to answer Vladislav Firstov skated alone down the boards and in on goalie Matt Murray, but the senior stopped the solo rush.

Murray was solid in his season debut with 21 saves. Midway through the first period UMass held a 1-0 lead but was in the middle of killing a 5-on-3 UConn power play. One penalty had just expired when Jonny Evans ripped a shot from the slot that Murray snagged with his glove.

It was one of the few clean looks the Huskies had on net.

“It’s been really enjoyable watching Matt mature as a goalie,” Carvel said. “He’s very professional. He’s very methodical and he looks very calm in the net and as a coach I always like goaltenders that either are calm or really confident and Matt falls into the very calm. He lets the game come to him and I thought he looked really under control.”

UMass made it 3-1 with slick passing midway through the third. Bobby Trivigno passed across the ice to Colin Felix, who sent it back through traffic to freshman Oliver MacDonald, who beat Vomacka on the short side.

The Minutemen made it 4-1 late in the third in a 4-on-4 situation. A Zac Jones hit along the boards caused a UConn turnover in its defensive zone and Trivigno picked up the puck. His shot on Vomacka was stopped, but Jones trailed the play and put home the rebound.

A Chau power-play goal at 18:51 made it 5-1. Marc Del Gaizo and Eric Faith had assists on the play.

Cal Kiefiuk gave UMass a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal 5:26 into the first period. The Minutemen were peppering Vomacka with shots before Kiefiuk broke through and buried a pass from freshman Josh Lopina.

“I’ve said this a few times that our power play has to be way better than it was last year,” Carvel said. “I think were a really good five on five team. We need our special teams to get to another level that we weren’t at last year and tonight was a good first step for me.”

Kale Howarth tied the game at 14:18 of the first.

“I thought for three periods we were thoroughly outplayed,” UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “I give a lot of credit to their team. They outskated us ... and were better on special teams.”

The teams play again at 4 p.m. at UConn on Saturday.

Mike Moran can be reached at Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy