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UMass hockey’s 4-2 win over UConn spurred by offensive explosion late in the second period

(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts hockey team was sparked by a trio of goals in the span of 78 seconds on Friday, which propelled its 4-2 Hockey East Association victory over Connecticut at the Mullins Center.

George Mika’s goal with 1:57 remaining in the second period, set up nicely by Cale Makar, was blasted by Huskie (6-11-2, 4-7-1 HEA) goaltender Adam Huska and tied things at two for UMass (8-6-0, 3-3-0 HEA), which had found minimal luck on the attack until that point.

In the blink of an eye, just 29 seconds later, Jack Suter slammed home his first goal of the season after Mika’s second career tally and gave the Minutemen their third goal of the night that would go on to count as the game-winner.

Mitchell Chaffee added his sixth goal of the season with 39 seconds remaining in the period, extending his scoring streak to three games. The freshman also has garnered a point in each of the previous five games.

“We didn’t have much to show for halfway through the game but those three goals in [78] seconds at the end of the second period were well deserved,” coach Greg Carvel said. “We were buzzing, we were outworking them for a stretch and that’s a good confidence builder for our team. That’s the first game we’ve won where we haven’t scored first.”

Thanks to a handful of critical stops by Ryan Wischow that preempted the late barrage of goals, the deficit remained at just one and kept the Minutemen in good position.

“Those were key saves. We had a couple breakdowns that gave them those long breakaways and that’s on us. [Wischow] definitely bailed us out,” Carvel said. “He’s that kind of goaltender right now that’s playing with a lot of confidence and that just oozes through your team when you have that. He’s the kind of confident kid that when his play combines with his attitude, it’s effective and he made some huge saves tonight, really timely saves that kept us in control of the game.”

The most significant of those stops came with roughly seven minutes to go in the period, when Wischow made a decisive glove save to turn away a one on one breakaway opportunity. Seconds later, the Wisconsin native followed it up with a diving, post-to-post save that he buried in his chest and denied UConn’s Spencer Naas the chance to add some much needed insurance.

The sophomore made 25 saves total on the night.

“The second period there wasn’t much action going on so I just tried to make the saves when they came my way, guys were playing really good,” Wischow said. “I kind of felt it was coming, you knew we were on the brink of scoring, but I didn’t know we were gonna get three in a row so that’s nice. When we get a lead like that going into the third we have enough confidence in our guys to shut it down.”

Wishow also alluded to the toughness of the players in front of him and how, even after committing a penalty seven seconds into the game and conceding a goal a minute later, they all came together and contributed to dig out a late win.

“When the guys take the back post and block shots like that, teams aren’t gonna score,” Wishow said. “We’re a tough team and we like buying into all the little things and tonight we did pretty much everything right except for the first period we started a little slow. But we stuck with it and played really well.

“It’s a big sign for us going forward that they scored [seven] seconds in on the penalty and it’s just nice to know that our guys our mentally mature enough to overcome that and get a big win.”

Liam Flaherty can be reached at lpflaherty@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @_Liam Flaherty. 

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