UMass hockey rallies twice behind Anthony Del Gaizo but falls to rival Lowell in shootout

  • The UMass hockey team lost in a shootout to UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Center on Friday. STAFF PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/3/2021 10:04:08 PM

LOWELL – UMass Lowell goalie Owen Savory saved two shots in the shootout, and the River Hawks held on for a 5-4 win at the Tsongas Center on Friday.

Savory finished with 27 saves and stoned UMass’ Reed Lebster and Scott Morrow one-on-one to decide the extra point after the teams couldn’t separate following overtime. Lucas Mercuri missed the net for the Minutemen.

Lowell’s Carl Bergland beat UMass goalie Matt Murray for the shootout’s only goal, deciding a razor-thin contest between Hockey East rivals.

“Every game that we have with Lowell is always tight,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I’m proud of our guys and the way they fought back.”

The Minutemen were without five forwards due to injury, which hurt the amount of firepower they could throw into the shootout. Eric Faith returned to the lineup after missing the past two games.

UMass Lowell was whistled for too many men 32 seconds into overtime, and the River Hawks’ penalty, ironically, was to face a four-on-three for two minutes. They killed the penalty, and the rules of engagement shifted to four on four.

Murray kicked a sure UMass Lowell winner away with 1:13 left in the overtime. No one scored in the extra period, which necessitated the shootout.

Anthony Del Gaizo sent the game to overtime with a dramatic equalizer with 97 seconds remaining in overtime. Ryan Ufko and Reed Lebster fed him the puck. He finished with two goals, his second and third of the season.

“He’s easily been our most valuable player since all of the injuries,” Carvel said. “All he’s done since he’s been at UMass is step up when we need him. He’s a true warrior. I wish we had a lot more kids like him.”

It was UMass’ fourth overtime game in Hockey East play. The Minutemen still haven’t lost a conference game in regulation and earned a point.

“It hurts. We’re scratching and clawing and getting to overtime in games,” Carvel said. “I'm proud of that, but I’m really troubled by how we went down two men in the third for absolutely no reason at all.

A flurry of penalties late in the second period radically altered the game’s complexion. UMass captain Bobby Trivigno went to the ground after a hit and responded to it. Then another scuffle coalesced around Mercuri. Once the snow settled, Trivigno was whistled for roughing and embellishment, and Mercuri went to the box for roughing. Taylor Makar joined them in the box for one of Trivigno’s penalties. UMass Lowell’s Andre Lee joined them for cross checking 15 minutes, 20 seconds in.

“We go into the wall and come out with three penalties. I hadn’t seen that very often,” Carvel said. “That was a lack of discipline on our part. When we’re this short handed we can’t put ourselves in situations like that.”

It led to a Lowell five-on-three trailing 2-1. Reid Stefanson tied the game 2-2 for the River Hawks before any of the penalties could be announced. Ryan Brushett and Carl Berglund assisted on the play.

Another 50 seconds passed before Crasa gave the River Hawks a 3-2 lead on a rebound at 16:25. Ben Meehan and Condotta had an assist each.

“I got two penalties so it’s on me. They shouldn’t have scored those two power play goals, I basically gave it to them,” Trivigno said. “It’s my fault I took penalties.”

The Minutemen tied it again 3-3 just 2:29 into the third period. On a power play after a roughing call against UMass Lowell’s Connor Sodergren, Del Gaizo was standing in the right spot at the front of the net to push in a Ufko shot. Lebster also was credited with an assist.

“He just outworks everyone, blocks shots, just outworks everyone,” Trivigno said. “He led us tonight.”

Lowell’s Matt Crasa gave the River Hawks back the lead 4-3 with 7:38 remaining that looked like a winner until Del Gaizo stepped in the second time.

“All of their goals tonight were tap ins at the back post. Those drive me nuts,” Carvel said. “If those are going in that’s on us. There’s just too much of that in our game where we’re not hard enough around the net. Against a team like that, they’re going to make you pay.”

Referees reviewed whether Crasa kicked the puck into the net, but the goal stood. Lucas Condotta and Nick Austin had an assist each.

UMass Lowell rallied from two goals down to take the lead. Ryan Lautenbach initially put the Minutemen ahead late in the first period with his first career goal 10:30 in.

Trivigno beat two River Hawks to a loose puck and split them as he burst into the left side of the offensive zone. Lautenbach trailed Trivigno to his right and received an on-point pass from his captain, snapping it high under the bar for the 1-0 lead.

“He’s coming along. He doesn’t try to be flashy. He’s just a hardworking kid with some good ability,” Carvel said. “He’ll probably be in the lineup the rest of his career. He’s a hard-nosed kid that plays the right way.”

It was one of few UMass chances in the first period. The River Hawks outshot them 8-5, and the Minutemen went 0-for-2 on the power play. UMass initially struggled to get the puck out of its own end before settling into the rhythms and physicality of the game.

Referees had to break up several post-whistle scuffles, shoving matches and conversations.

Morrow and a healthy dose of patience doubled the lead 4:20 into the second period. Lautenbach kicked him a pass at the left circle and Morrow waited. Then he waited some more. After more waiting, Morrow picked the top-right corner for a 2-0 advantage. Aaron Bohlinger also earned an assist on the play.

The River Hawks struck back five minutes later to halve the advantage. Matt Allen smashed home a rebound from Meehan to cut the lead to 2-1 at 9:18 of the second.

Murray, who finished with 28 saves, strung together two of them on opposite sides of the net with 6:46 left in the second. He kept out a close range shot from his left then dove to the right side and handled the rebound, pushing over and out to cut down the angle for the shot.

The teams will do it again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mullins Center, the second part of a doubleheader following a men’s basketball game against Harvard at noon.

WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS? – UMass will participate in the 2022 Friendship Four, the only NCAA ice hockey tournament hosted outside North America, on Nov. 25-26 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The event returns after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minutemen will be joined by UMass Lowell, Quinnipiac and Dartmouth.

They last participated in the event in 2016.

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