UMass hockey tops Northeastern for 6th straight win

  • Garrett Wait and Josh Lopina, right, celebrate Wait’s empty net goal to seal a victory Saturday night at the Mullins Center. UMass beat Northeastern 5-3. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • Matt Murray saved 16 shots, as UMass beat Northeastern 5-3 on Saturday at the Mullins Center. The victory was Murray’s 50th, which tied the UMass career record. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/2/2021 10:53:52 PM

Allowing two third-period goals to shrink a once-commanding lead to one goal didn’t rattle the UMass hockey team Saturday.

The Minutemen have plenty of practice. So when their three-goal lead dwindled to two and then one, UMass made sure they held onto it in a 5-3 victory over Northeastern at the Mullins Center.

“We’ve got a lot of experience here of giving up goals in the third period. Maybe that’s why we seemed calm about it,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “We’re doing it quite often, and I’m not happy about that. If we could have stayed out of the penalty box, I think it would have been a more convincing win.”

But a two-goal win bolstered by an empty-netter is still a victory, and UMass (8-3-1) has won six in a row. The Minutemen swept Northeastern (3-3-2) for the second consecutive season. They also won their third game of the week following a 4-3 victory over the Huskies at Matthews Arena on Friday and a midweek win at New Hampshire.

“We had good energy. Like it’s tough to play at Northeastern for us, it’s tough for them to play here,” Carvel said. “We were playing fast, and we were trying to be heavy. When we stayed out of the box, I liked our game.”

UMass freshman Jerry Harding opened the game just 2 minutes, 33 seconds in, finding the net for the first time in his career. Anthony Del Gaizo fed Harding a pass just to the right of goal close, and Harding finished. Three minutes later, Northeastern’s Julian Kislin tripped Matt Kessel on a clear breakaway, awarding Kessel a penalty shot. Kessel shipped the puck back and forth on his approach before depositing it behind Northeastern goalie Connor Murphy and doubling the lead.

“I’m not even sure where the puck went in there,” Carvel said.

Matt Murray kept it 2-0 with 3:52 in the period, launching himself across the goal to his left after a stop to slap away a rebound with his glove.

“That save in the first period was one of the best saves I’ve seen at this level,” Carvel said.

The victory was Murray’s 50th, which tied for the most in program history with Gabe Winer, who played from 2001-06.

Zac Jones pushed the lead to 3-0 with 2:24 left in the first on a wrist shot from the blue line through a mosh pit screening Murphy.

The Minutemen kept their foot on the gas to start the second. Senior Carson Gicewicz continued his scalding stretch, scoring his seventh goal in the past five games. The five-game goal streak tied a program record.

Then Northeastern’s power play started to find some traction. UMass killed its first three penalties before Zach Solow scored a power play goal 3:32 into the second. That cut the lead to 4-1. The Huskies went 2-for-5 with a man advantage and started both the second and third periods on the power play.

“That gives Northeastern hope going into the third period,” Carvel said. “Obviously it’s great we’re winning games, but there’s a lot we need to clean up. If our group can stay out of the box, we’re a pretty good hockey team. But we didn’t do that this weekend.”

Northeastern didn’t convert the power play to start the third, but the Huskies received another 21 seconds after the first expired. Aidan McDonough brought the Huskies within two goals at 3:17.

The Huskies pulled within a goal 11 minutes later when Dylan Jackson scored in tight. UMass didn’t let them any closer. Murray stopped 16 shots, and Garrett Wait sealed the victory by firing the puck into an empty net with 35.5 seconds remaining. Josh Lopina finished with two assists.

“Winning six games in a row, it’s tough to win that many games in a row,” Carvel said. “The competition is so strong.”

On Friday night, Oliver Chau scored the game-winner with 5:17 remaining in UMass’ 4-3 victory, capping a third-period comeback. Josh Lopina tied the back-and-fourth game at 3 after Northeastern retook the lead with two early tallies.

Gicewicz and Wait each scored on power plays to answer an early Huskies goal and put UMass ahead for the first time. Lopina and Harding each had a goal and an assist. Murray made 24 saves.

“That’s a big weekend for us to sweep Northeastern, to win three games in four nights,” Carvel said. “I thought we did a good job managing the guys’ energy. I never felt like our guys showed fatigue.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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