UMass hockey notebook: Minutemen acknowledge flaws in Merrimack sweep

  • The UMass hockey team celebrated a two-game sweep of Merrimack but also acknowledged the areas that still need work as the Minutemen prepare for Providence. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2021 7:37:36 PM

UMass’ two wins over Merrimack over the weekend look more like a Rorschach test to Greg Carvel.

The Minutemen’s coach can see the value of two wins over a program that the team has historically stumbled against. But there’s also concerns about how UMass achieved those victories.

“There’s two ways to look at it. We found ways to win, but the Saturday night game was frustrating because we came out so poorly. We found a way to get the lead and gave it up twice it the third period and found a way to win. There’s a lot of positives,” Carvel said. “As a coach you’d like to have a consistent effort for 60 minutes. It was a very up and down game.”

No. 12 UMass beat Merrimack in North Andover 2-1 on Friday thanks to a last-second goal from Colin Felix. The Minutemen went ahead in the first period thanks to Bobby Trivigno’s dogged work around the net, but the Warriors tied the game four minutes into the third period.

On Saturday, Merrimack jumped to a 2-0 first period lead. The Minutemen responded with the next three tallies: two from Garrett Wait and a Cal Kiefiuk goal nearly at the second period buzzer. The Warriors tied it again less than a minute into the third. Dartmouth transfer Matt Baker put UMass up 4-3 with his first goal as a Minuteman, but Merrimack had another answer with 48 seconds to go.

Scott Morrow delivered the UMass winner in OT, his first collegiate goal to preserve a series sweep 5-4.

“It was great for the fans. A lot of people complimented me on the win. it’s great that we won. That’s not how you want to win,” Carvel said. “At the same time I feel like we’re a young team learning a lot. They showed they could find ways to dig themselves out of a hole and be resilient, and those are really good signs.”

FRIARS ON THE HORIZON – UMass (4-2) will have a clearer idea of where the team stands when it faces No. 7 Providence in a two-game set. The Friars visit the Mullins Center at 7 p.m. Friday, and the Minutemen will travel to Rhode Island at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Providence (6-3) has faced three top-10 teams already, losing to then-No. 1 Minnesota State and No. 5 Minnesota Duluth in the 2021 Icebreaker before returning home for a massive comeback victory over No. 8 Denver. Last weekend, the Friars took two of three games from New Hampshire and only lost in overtime.

“I think we need to be better. They’re consistently one of the top teams in our league. They’re tough to play against and they make you play ant a certain level. That’s what we try to be. We try to make other teams say that about us,” Carvel said. “I think Providence is probably the best team in our league. They’ve played a lot of tough teams early on. They’re pretty well battle tested.”

The Friars have scored the fourth-most goals in the country: 36.

Providence goalie Jaxson Stauber has all six victories, tied for the most in the country. He has a 2.04 goals against average and .928 save percentage (fourth in Hockey East). Sophomore Brett Berard is tied for third in the nation with seven goals, which lead Hockey East. His 11 points rank second in the conference.

“I may be wrong, but I felt going into this season and seeing what’s taken place so far that Providence is a top team,” Carvel said. “It’ll come down to who checks better, who competes harder, who gets some saves. I think it’s a good next step for us.”

WEEKLY AWARDS – Morrow received his first Hockey East Rookie of the Week nod for netting the power-play winner Saturday. He also added an assist in his first multi-point game at UMass. Trivigno and Felix were also mentioned as two of the conference top performers after c0ntributing three points each over the weekend.

Former UMass forward Phillip Lagunov was named the Hockey East Co-Player of the Week after scoring three goals against Boston College over the weekend, one of which was a game-winner Friday that helped the Catamounts defeat the Eagles for the first time in five years. 

NEXT LEVEL – UMass product Filip Lindberg was named the AHL Goaltender of the Month for October playing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He won all four games he started and posted a 1.71 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.

He’s the latest former Minuteman to celebrate a milestone at the professional level. Former Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar notched his 100th career point last week in just his 108th career game.

“Once they leave here the communication ends, but I don’t believe that the relationship or the connection does,” Carvel said. “

We’ve got quite a pool of guys now floating out there at different levels. That’s the fun part of this is we’re building.”

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