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Season-high 29 saves from Matt Murray proves lone highlight in UMass hockey’s 3-0 shutout loss to Ohio State

Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian

Goaltender Matt Murray registered 50 total saves in the Massachusetts hockey team’s series against Ohio State this weekend, including a season-high 29 save effort in UMass’ 3-0 loss to the Buckeyes Saturday.

The Minutemen fell to 3-3 on the season after getting swept by the Buckeyes (3-2, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) at the Mullins Center.

“I thought he was really good, really steady,” head coach Greg Carvel said about his freshman netminder. “It’s a good sign. He gets more and more comfortable [in goal] as you would expect for a young goalie.”

Murray has appeared in between the pipes in the last three UMass contests pulling a 1-2 record against American International and OSU. His first collegiate win, which was also his first career start, dates back to the Minutemen’s 4-2 victory over Arizona on Oct. 7.

Murray had a lot on his plate in the weekend doubleheader with the Buckeyes but despite the series outcome, the St. Albert, Alberta native gave promising performances both nights, including his best statistical outing Saturday.

“You can’t really look at it as an individual stat,” Murray said. “It’s just performance that has to count and you have to give the guys the best chance to win regardless if it comes in a win or a loss.”

Despite his exceptional performance, Carvel noted that the goalie choices are still game to game decisions, though Murray has stood out at the beginning of this season.

“Through the first four games he separated himself a little bit and we thought last night he played well,” Carvel said. “We wanted to see what he could do in a back-to-back situation.”

Senior defenseman Jake Horton was impressed with his goaltender’s play against the Buckeyes.

“We tip our hat to him, we thought he had a great weekend for us. It’s not too likely when you’re going to win a game only scoring one goal, and tonight [we] didn’t score any, but he did his job and he did great at it,” Horton said. “We got to help him out.”

“It’s really nice to see that coach Carvel has the confidence in myself to put me in again,” Murray said about earning consecutive starts for the first time this season.

In the latter of the two contests, the 19-year-old had a confident presence in net and showed exceptional focus as he was able to swallow up the puck by effectively following each play.

“I thought I did my job,” Murray said. “That’s all I try to do when I go out there, just play the best I can [and] give the guys a chance to win.”

A .920 save percentage is around the area that Carvel expects his goaltenders to be at. He recalled last seasons under .900 percentages being “tough” and an instant indication that the goaltender situation had to be payed attention to.

Carvel considered the weekend against OSU to be very revealing to the coaching staff of the type of team the Minutemen are forming into. Elevating their goaltending was on the top of the checklist with Carvel hoping to achieve a save percentage that was respectable.

“[This weekend] revealed that we’ve got a kid who looks like he can be a number one goalie in the Hockey East.”

Mollie Walker can be reached at molliewalker@umass.edu and followed on Twitter at MWalker2019.

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