UMass hockey pulls away from AIC with 4 1st-period goals

  • UMass hockey faces AIC at the MassMutual Center on Friday night and at the Mullins Center on Saturday. The Minutemen won Friday’s opener, 5-1. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2021 10:27:02 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Three of UMass’ first four shots went in the net, and the Minutemen left AIC behind 5-1 at the MassMutual Center on Friday.

They built a three-goal lead 6 minutes, 28 seconds in and had four goals in the first 8:37.

“We saw, to me, a more focused, desperate team,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I’m starting to see things that I like, but we have a long way to go.”

UMass (1-2) jumped on the Yellow Jackets within moments of puck drop. AIC was whistled for too many men on the ice just 39 seconds in, and the Minutemen didn’t need long to capitalize on the power play. Aaron Bohlinger fed Reed Lebster from the back fo the net for a one timer that snapped the net 14 seconds into the advantage for UMass’ first power play goal of the season. Freshman Ryan Ufko, promoted to UMass’ top defensive pairing for this game, also had an assist for his first career point.

The Minutemen’s power play remained switched on later in the first. AIC’s Justin Cole went to the box for hooking at 4:50. By 4:29, Bobby Trivigno sent a pass from the right circle to Josh Lopina standing in between the circles in front of the net for a blast that doubled UMass’ lead to 2-0. It was Lopina’s second goal of the season. Matthew Kessel also picked up an assist.

UMass was 0-for-10 on the power play in its season-opening series against Minnesota State and only had four shots total. The Minutemen converted 2-of-3 man advantage chances Friday. They spent 31 seconds total on the power play in the first period because of the two quick goals.

“I’ll take it as quick as I can,” Carvel said. “I’ll give them back the rest of it. I’m OK with that.”

The goals kept coming. Trivigno found the net from freshman Scott Morrow and Lopina two minutes later.

“We need a save at some point. When they only have four shots and three of them went in, that’s not setting us up for success,” AIC coach Eric Lang said. “I didn’t feel dominated. I didn’t feel overwhelmed.”

UMass’ Anthony Del Gaizo slammed home a wraparound that made it 4-0 8:37 in. Matt Baker, the Dartmouth transfer, fired a shot off AIC goalie Jake Kucharski’s pad that Del Gaizo picked up and took to the other side of the net. The assist was Baker’s first career point at UMass.

Those four goals were the most in one period since UMass also put four in against Providence in the second period on Feb. 23.

“When you get up on a team like that, you want to end the game. We were trying to make them quit,” Lopina said. “Last weekend, we had a lead like that. We let it go, so we’re learning how to win games when we’re on top. Don’t change our game plan, just keep the throttle down.”

Ty Farmer tacked on a fifth UMass goal 7:05 into the second. He sniped the top left corner from behind the right circle after shaking an AIC defender. It was his 100th career game for UMass and 11th goal. Garret Wait assisted him on the shot, giving each member of UMass’ top line at least one point in the game.

“Last week, we didn’t play up to our standard. I don’t think we worked hard enough,” Lopina said. “It was something we totally talked about as a line and worked on the last two weeks of practice. (Friday) we played to our standard, and we’re looking to do that the rest of the season.”

Halfway through the second, Lebster slammed into and over Kucharski with the puck, sending Kucharski’s all-white helmet flying. Kucharki stayed on the ground, and AIC defenseman  Brian Kramer pounced on Lebster on the ice. After a review, Lebster was assessed a game misconduct penalty for charging the goaltender and ejected. Kramer went to the box for holding, and Taylor Makar served the five-minute penalty for the Minutemen. 

Neither team broke through during the two minutes of 4-on-4 play, then UMass killed AIC’s three-minute power play despite some pressure from the Yellow Jackets on the net.

AIC ended the shutout 6:09 into the third period. Parker Revering had a lot of open ice near the blue line to fire a shot, and UMass goalie Matt Murray kicked it to his left. Julius Janhonen was waiting to slam the rebound home for the Yellow Jackets.

“Our D zone coverage was way better. I didn’t think we gave up many scoring chances,” Carvel said. “It would have been nice to see Matt get a shutout, but the defensive effort was better. It’s a process.”

Murray finished with 24 saves, winning his 53rd game at UMass, extending the record he set last season.

The Minutemen committed five penalties but didn’t allow any power play goals. 

“We could do a better job staying out of the box. I feel like that’s where they generate most of their offense from,” Murray said.

The teams will play the second game of the home-and-home series at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mullins Center.

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

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