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Mistakes fuel UMass hockey’s 5-3 loss to Merrimack Saturday

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts hockey team couldn’t completely overcome a slow start Saturday night in its 5-3 loss to Merrimack at Lawler Rink.

UMass (4-4-0, 1-1-0 Hockey East Association) surrendered three unanswered goals to the Warriors (1-4-2, 1-1-0 HEA), after tying the game at 2-2 in the first period, and failed to complete the Halloweekend sweep of Merrimack.

“We couldn’t of reinforced our guys more [about] what they were going to get tonight,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. “And it was exactly what we got. We just didn’t really want to execute or compete at the level we needed to.”

Freshman defensemen Mario Ferraro was the beneficiary of two UMass powerplay goals, one in the first period and the other in the third, recording his first two collegiate tallies in the defeat.

“A lot of credit goes to my teammates, they made such good passes to me back-door on the powerplay,” Ferraro said. “At the end of the day we did lose so I’m more disappointed about that obviously because it is a team game.”

Oliver Chau, a freshman forward, led the Minutemen with three points (goal, two assists) on the evening.

UMass’ backbreaker came in the second frame when Warriors defenseman Ryan Cook scored the only goal of the period, eventually transpiring as the game-winner, to give Merrimack its lead it would not vanquish.

“There’s a lot of game left and again it’s a one-goal game,” Carvel said. “I thought [in] third period we’d come out and try and get maybe five minutes of momentum in a row, but it didn’t really feel like we were ever able to because they stacked the blueline and did a really good job.”

Minutemen goalie Matt Murray didn’t have his best performance Saturday, surrendering all five Warrior goals, but still made 26 saves in the loss.

“Their second goal was a breakaway down the wall, a couple other ones were scrambles around the net, you can’t really blame him for those,” Carvel said of Murray.

UMass couldn’t sustain enough pressure throughout the 60-minute affair as evidenced by the final shot chart that saw Merrimack come out on top with a 31-22 advantage.

The Warriors jumped out with two quick scores to put the Minutemen behind by two fairly early in the contest.

Marc Biega snapped a short-side wrist shot past freshman goalie Matt Murray at 5:52, and Jace Henning unleashed a dart from the right faceoff circle less than three minutes later, giving Merrimack a two-goal lead before the halfway point of the first period.

UMass notched its first of the game when freshman Oliver Chau scored his team-leading third goal of the season, smashing home Josh Couturier’s initial shot from the point.

Warriors junior forward Derek Petti was called for elbowing on Eetu Torpstrom at 17:55 giving the Minutemen powerplay (2-for-5 Saturday night) a chance to tie the game, and they wasted little time in doing so.

Ferraro recorded his first career goal on hard wrist shot just above the left Merrimack faceoff circle to tie the game at 2-2 before heading into the first intermission.

The Warriors retook the lead at 9:18 of the second period on Cook’s blast, making it 3-2 Merrimack.

Two more Warrior goals from Tyler Irvine and Henning in the final frame were enough to give Merrimack its first win of the season.

Ferraro added another goal in the third, on a five-on-three UMass man-advantage, preventing the Warriors from skating away with the three-goal cushion.

Henning (two goals), junior Ludvig Larsson (two assists), and Irvine (goal and assist) led the charge for Merrimack, while goaltender Craig Pantano earned the 16-save victory.

“I think that we didn’t bring the same compete-level that we had the night before,” said Ferraro. “We just weren’t hitting enough, being physical enough, and we didn’t buy into the game plan, which was to get pucks up the ice, up the boards quick, for quick chip ins. We knew that this was a small rink and we just didn’t follow the game plan that we had.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at rames@umass.edu or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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