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Club hockey picks up 10th win coming into first ranking period

Collegian file photo

With 4:33 to play in the third period, the Massachusetts club hockey team held a slim 3-2 lead, but that changed quickly when freshman defenseman Alex Kibrick took a pass from classmate Matthew Poulin and snuck it past Delaware goaltender Eric Birnberg blocker side.

The goal put the Minutemen up 4-2, and UMass senior forward Anthony Lespasio put the nail in Delaware’s coffin with 52 seconds left in regulation, giving the Minutemen a 5-2 victory, their 10th of the season in only 12 games.

“It’s good, a huge accomplishment,” UMass coach Mike DeFazio said of the team’s start. “This was supposed to be—I don’t want to say a rebuilding year—but we had some luck with the freshmen that came in. If you’re at 10-1-1 in any sport at any level it’s good. I don’t care if you’re playing tennis, if you’re playing golf, hockey, football—10 wins, one loss and a tie is pretty damn good.”

Kibrick’s goal was his first collegiate goal, a surprise to many.

“Poulin gets the puck at the point and I’m just screaming at him because I’m wide open and I just let one rip and luckily it went in,” Kibrick said of the goal.

Kibrick said it “feels good to finally get the monkey off [his] shoulder.”

The Minutemen (10-1-1) got started early Saturday night when senior defenseman captain Jake Mercier scored a power play goal 1:59 into the first period, to give them a 1-0 lead early.

After the Blue Hens (8-3) scored a power play goal of their own, courtesy of senior forward Stephen Bryson, UMass got the lead right back with the third power play goal of the period on a goal by Artie Potter with 10:16 to play in the first period, making it 2-1 midway through.

“I think we did well on the power play,” Mercier said of special teams play. “There was a lot of not even strength time out there and credit to everyone else, we just were in and around the power play.”

Coming into the third period of play, UMass was down a man after sophomore forward Danny Baldino was sent to the penalty box for slashing with 1:20 left in the second period.

Delaware took advantage and 28 seconds into the period, junior forward Ryan Morse scored his 10th goal of the season, knotting the game at two apiece.

With 12:46 to play in the third period, freshman forward Scott Shorrock scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season to put the Minutemen in front 3-2.

While UMass ended up with five goals on the night, on the other end of the ice sophomore goaltender Ryan LaCroix kept the Minutemen in the game when it was close. LaCroix finished the game with 16 saves, on 18 shots.

“We’ve had good goaltending all year, we just try to play solid in front of him and make sure we don’t spend too much time in the defensive zone, but he’s been a brick wall for us all year, so he’s been good,” Kibrick said.

The win came with a cost, however, as with 4:27 to play in the third period, Delaware’s Ryan Lowe was called for interference after bumping UMass sophomore forward Christian Mauro into the goal frame.

Mauro laid motionless on the ice for three minutes before being helped up by an EMT and his teammates, but would skate off under his own power.

He underwent multiple tests behind the bench after the play and would not finish the game. He did, however, stay on the bench for the last four minutes.

According to DeFazio, he will be kept out of practice and the team won’t rush his return, but these are merely preventative measures, as his status is unknown at this time.

In their next matchup, the Minutemen play a two-game weekend set, first taking on Providence College at the Mullins Center Practice Rink on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. and then facing New Hampshire on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 12 p.m.

 

Zander Manning can be reached at alexanderman@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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