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UMass hockey shocks No. 8/7 Providence with 5-2 victory

Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team beat No. 8/7 Providence 5-2 after blowing a 2-0 lead in the first period, to secure its second Hockey East Association win of the 2017-18 season.

UMass (5-5-0, 2-2-0 HEA) used goals from Mitchell Chaffee, Oliver Chau, Austin Albrecht, Niko Rufo, and Niko Hildenbrand to power past the Friars Thursday evening at the Mullins Center.

“That’s a tremendous win for our program and I don’t feel like we stole it,” coach Greg Carvel said. “Providence probably underestimated us and we came out and were able to jump ahead early.”

The Friars (5-4-0, 2-3-0 HEA) only allowed an average of 2.38 goals per game prior to the matchup, but the Minutemen more than doubled that Thursday with their five-goal outburst.

Just over three minutes into the first period, Chaffee made it 1-0 after finishing a hard check before dishing off a give-and-go pass with John Leonard. Stationed at the right corner of the Providence net, Chaffee batted home a bouncing puck that lobbed over Friar goaltender Hayden Hawkey for his third goal of the season.

Leonard’s assist counted as his first point since returning from an upper body injury suffered in the first Ohio State game on Oct. 20.

“It was really good to get him back into our lineup,” Carvel said of Leonard. “He brings a spark that was missing and to me it’s been evident that it was missing.”

Roughly four minutes after the first Minutemen goal, Chau doubled the UMass lead when he carried the puck around the back of the net after Chaffee’s initial shot was turned aside, and snuck it past Hawkey before he could catch up.

The goal counted as Chau’s fourth of the season and 10th point of the year, catapulting him to a three-way tie for second-place for most points amongst freshmen in the country.

Penn State defenseman Cole Hults leads with 11 points, with New Hampshire defenseman Benton Maas and Sacred Heart forward Marc Johnstone each sitting with 10.

“Tonight they were ready to play and they played hard for 60 minutes,” Carvel said. “It was just a real good solid game and I feel we got what we deserved.”

The Friars netted their sixth power play goal of the season to cut the Minutemen lead in half. Ben Mirageas sent a hard shot from the top of the zone that skid right past goalie Ryan Wischow to make it 2-1.

To tie the game 2-2, Providence struck in the second period after Scott Conway wove in and out of the UMass defense to put it on net for Josh Wilkins, who bat the puck home at the 6:28 mark.

“To lose a 2-0 lead can be psychologically tough, but I didn’t feel anything on our bench,” Carvel said. “That’s been a nice sign from this group, no matter what happens, you don’t feel a drop in our bench.”

In the final frame of play, the puck came lose after a face-off in the Friar zone and landed right in front of Albrecht who one timed it to the back of the net to regain the lead for the Minutemen. The tally counted as Albrecht’s first career goal and proved to be the game winner.

“I think everyone from top to bottom played very strong and very good so it just happened to be me tonight,” Albrecht said. “I think it could’ve been anyone.”

The two final goals of the night were empty-netters, credited to Rufo and Hildenbrand, each securing their third goals of the season.

Wischow was put to the test early, registering 13 of his final 33 saves of the night in the first 20 minutes of play.

“[Wischow is] a competitive goalie, he battles,” Carvel said. “In any game you win your goalie has to be good and he was excellent tonight.”

Hawkey also registered 33 saves in the contest including 13 in the final frame of play.

UMass looks to finish off the sweep of Providence this upcoming Saturday, this time in Providence at Schneider Arena, with another 7 p.m. puck drop.

 

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

 

 

 

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