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UMass hockey wins first Hockey East matchup in 4-0 shutout victory over Merrimack

Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian

Four defensemen tallied goals in the Massachusetts hockey team’s 4-0 victory over Merrimack Friday night at the Mullins Center. Two power play goals paired with another perfect penalty kill performance anchored the Minutemen to their first Hockey East Association win of 2017.

UMass improves to 4-3 overall and 1-0-0 in Hockey East play while the Warriors continue to remain winless this season falling to 0-4-2 overall and 0-1-0.

“I thought we played to our identity really well tonight,” coach Greg Carvel said. “A four-goal outburst and then a shut out is a great confidence builder for our young group.”

Jake McLaughlin, Eetu Torpstrom, Cale Makar and Josh Couturier all registered goals for the Minutemen in the victory.

Freshman goalie Matt Murray recorded his first shutout of his career with a 24-save performance. The freshman, in his fourth straight start, now sits with a 3-2-0 record, a 1.81 goals-against average, and a .930 save percentage with over 298 minutes of play.

“Every game [Murray] gets better and he’s given us a lot of confidence,” Carvel said. “When you can play and know that your goalie is going to cover up mistakes that’s quite an asset to have and that’s what we’ve seen here.”

Jake McLaughlin opened the scoring for UMass after Merrimack goalie Drew Vogler was drawn to the left side of the goal before the puck trickled out to the right side where McLaughlin tapped it into an almost empty net for his first goal of the season.

Just over two minutes later Philip Lagunov dished the puck off to Eetu Torpstrom who attacked the net, flipping a backhander over Vogler’s right shoulder for the first power play goal of the night making it 2-0.

Lagunov was credited for the assists on both McLaughlin and Torpstrom’s goals.

“To hold [Merrimack] off and win the special teams the way we did, we were physical,” Carvel said. “I thought we really checked well and played with a lot of intensity.”

Just thirteen seconds into the second period, Cale Makar netted his first collegiate goal for the Minutemen’s third goal of the game. Makar found himself in the high slot with the puck on his stick and sent a hard shot beating Vogler glove side.

“I think [Cale is] just starting to figure out this level and I think you’re going to see him continue to elevate,” Carvel said. “Every freshman that scores a goal you’re just happy for them that they do get that past them and they don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Carvel expects his defensemen to be a part of the offense, acknowledging that he believes his defensive group skates well and is driven by their offensive mindedness.

“Good teams have a backend that really makes their offense go, and I think we have that capability here,” Carvel said.

A cross-checking penalty at 14:08 of the second period sent the Warriors onto the penalty kill, where Josh Couturier capitalized on a hard shot from the left face-off circle that soared right past Vogler for his first goal in a UMass sweater, to make it the final 4-0.

Carvel considers Couturier an intricate part of the UMass roster, contributing his strong ice presence and ability to eat up minutes.

“He’s a good compliment to the younger defensemen we have in this group,” Carvel said. “He’s got a big shot so we want him shooting the puck on the power play whenever we can.”

Volger contributed 15 saves in the contest for Merrimack, before getting pulled for Craig Patano after Couturiers marker in the third.

Carvel was pleased with UMass’ performance against its first Hockey East opponent, though has already set his sights on the final of the two matchups.

“No doubt tomorrow we’ll see a very energized Merrimack,” Carvel said. “It’ll be a huge challenge to see if we can bring it back two nights in a row.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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