No. 6 Michigan explodes for 3 in the 3rd to take down No. 10 UMass hockey in Game 1 Ann Arbor

  • UMass forwards Anthony Del Gaizo, center, and Garrett Wait fight in front of the Michigan net on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass forward Anthony Del Gaizo, right, needs to be separated form Michigan’s Brendan Brisson during Saturday’s game in Ann Arbor, Mich. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass forward Lucas Mercuri battles Michigan’s Nick Blankenburg along the boards Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/8/2022 8:04:29 PM

Michigan doesn’t need extra chances. The No. 6 Wolverines are the third-highest scoring team in the country.

But the No. 10 UMass hockey team gave the puck away with poor decisions or bad passes, and Michigan converted all three into goals in a 4-1 win Saturday at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Wolverines struck 1 minute, 15 seconds into the game. Brendan Brisson hammered home a one-timer all alone in the center of the ice from Kent Johnson and Jack Summers.

“I'll be honest, I think our guys are a little bit in awe. I think they gave the opponent a lot of respect, which they deserve, they're very good team, but I just felt like this was a big game and our guys’ eyes were a little too big and we weren't ready to start,” UMas coach Greg Carvel said. “We gave them a little more respect than probably needed to.”

UMass (10-5-2) recovered from the initial shock of Michigan’s speed and settled into a more physical style. Garrett Wait, a Minnesota transfer who’s played in Ann Arbor before, knotted the game at 1-1 15:49 in from an odd angle behind Wolverines keeper Erik Portillo. He was looking for a pass to Bobby Trivigno on the other side of the net, but the puck snuck in to tie the game.

Trivigno and Josh Lopina were credited with assists.

“We didn’t do a great job creating offense. We scored by getting the puck below the goal line and scoring on the back post,” Carvel said.

The teams exchanged chances in a scoreless but thrilling second period. Michigan (15-6-1) put 14 shots on frame, while UMass had 12.

The Wolverines broke through 7:58 into the third. A turnover gave the Wolverines a 3-on-1 in UMass’ zone. Scott Morrow sprawled out to try and cut off Brisson’s angle, but he found Johnson on the back step for a tap in. Matt Berniers also had an assist on the play.

Brisson struck again nine minutes later on an eerily similar goal to his opener to make it 3-1 with 3:12 left.

“Our puck management wasn’t great. We iced the puck a ton of times. A lot of guys didn't want to hold onto pucks and make something happen. Not a very well-played game by us in almost every regard,” Carvel said.

A Nick Blankenburg cross checking penalty put UMass on the power play with 1:01 left. UMass pulled Matt Murray for a 6-on-4 advantage. It lasted 33 seconds before Johnny Beecher stole the puck for a breakaway, short handed, empty net goal to cement the final scoreline. It was his third chance with the puck alone in front of the Minutemen’s net, but Murray stonewalled him both previous times.

Murray finished with 37 saves.

“He was outstanding. He made a ton of big saves. A lot of pucks his way and he looked like he was very much in control and comfortable and in the net. That's as many scoring chances as we've given up probably since I've been at UMass,” Carvel said. “It was a pretty lopsided game, and Matt made it seem like a close game.”

The teams will meet again at 4 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

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

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