Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey shuts down No. 8 Northeastern with 3-0 win

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(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

Another game, another milestone for the Massachusetts hockey team.

Back on home-ice in front of familiar faces at the Mullins Center, UMass stunned No. 8 Northeastern 3-0, in what can only be classified as the Minutemen’s biggest win of the season.

“They’re a good hockey team,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I feel it was good to beat Providence, because we found a way to win. Tonight, we soundly won that game and that’s the difference for me. It was a complete 60-minute game, we had four lines playing well, the defense playing well, you played discipline, you had your goaltender playing well, that’s about as complete of a game as we’ve had from our group, that’s why it’s a highlight for me.”

The win counts as the Minutemen’s first win against the Huskies in over three years and the first shutout over Northeastern since Feb. 2, 2014.

“I mean you look at where Northeastern is in the standings right now and that’s a huge win for our program,” junior Austin Plevy said. “I mean you look at our schedule and it’s Hockey East, Hockey East, Hockey East, it’s tough. But that was a really unbelievable game and the guys, everybody did their part. That was a huge win for us.”

A two-goal outing by freshman Mitchell Chaffee, combined with the calming influence in net in freshman Matt Murray, who finished the night with 29 saves and the second shutout of his career, charged UMass (11-10-1, 5-6-1 Hockey East Association) to the upset win.

“The thing I liked about tonight was I saw our team mature pretty quickly, we had a very specific way we wanted to play tonight and we challenged our guys to rise to that level. They did an excellent job,” said Carvel.

The Minutemen second line was strong in particular, with Chaffee, Oliver Chau and Jake Gaudet notching four combined points in the win over the Huskies (14-6-3, 10-4-1 HEA).

“Yeah I felt that we were clicking tonight,” Chaffee said. “It was a great job by (Oliver) Chau and everyone, it wasn’t just our line it was the whole team clicking tonight.”

“I think the key for that line right now is Jake Gaudet, his game has really come along the last three games,” Carvel said. “The last three games I think he’s been great. He’s been the force that I think he can be and that helps those other two guys who have been consistent offensively.

“Chaffee is just really impressive what he’s doing,” added Carvel. “He was a checker in the USHL who didn’t get a lot of minutes. And he’s come here and he’s taken advantage of great opportunity and he’s created those opportunities, he plays big, heavy and hard. He’s a young kid in this league and every night he stands out. That’s great for him and great for us.”

UMass outshot Northeastern 32-29 in the contest, with defensemen Cale Makar and Josh Couturier each throwing four shots towards the opposing cage.

The Minutemen, donned in their new Adidas home-whites, got off to a bit of a slow start in the opening period.

While outshot 15-7 by the Huskies in the first period, UMass didn’t allow any high-end scoring chances to Northeastern. Three power plays gave the Minutemen their best opportunities to score but Huskie goaltender Cayden Primeau (29 saves) was sharp to keep the score 0-0.

UMass flipped the script on Northeastern in the second period, piling on shot after shot on Primeau until Chaffee beat the Montreal Canadien draft pick with a deflection goal at 11:19, putting the Minutemen ahead 1-0.

A Huskie five-minute major penalty awarded UMass an extended look on the man-advantage just over four minutes later, and the Minutemen struck again. Chaffee finished off a pretty passing sequence, doubling UMass’ lead to 2-0.

Freshmen John Leonard and Chau assisted on Chaffee’s second marker.

The Minutemen power play carried over into the third period but Northeastern killed off the remaining time.

Like the prior two periods, UMass was ready to go from the onset and tallied another goal less than four minutes into the frame.

With the puck just inside the offensive blueline, Mario Ferraro executed a few nifty dekes around a Huskie defender, took the open ice down the left side-boards and feed Plevy who pile-drived the puck into the back of the Northeastern net to make it 3-0 at 3:23.

A couple breakaway chances from Huskie forwards Matt Filipe and Dylan Sikura late in the third period almost spoiled Murray’s shutout bid, but the netminder from St. Albert, Alberta, shut the door both times, with help from the left post on Sikura’s chance, to preserve the shutout and the feel-good win for the Minutemen.

“They can pop a couple pretty quick so that was our huge focus was play smart defensively and like anything, our defense leads to offense,” Plevy said. “That was good, we broke out of our zone clean, got in there, forchecked them hard and that led to another goal. That was a nice cushion to have.”

 

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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