Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey falls flat in 5-0 loss to Northeastern

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If Friday night’s victory over Northeastern was a statement for the Massachusetts hockey team, Saturday night’s outing was hardly a whimper.

Twenty four hours removed from its biggest win of the season, a 3-0 upset over the No. 8 Huskies, the Minutemen (11-11-1, 5-7-1 Hockey East Association) failed to complete the sweep, taking a 5-0 beating on Saturday night on the back end of a home-and-home.

“Obviously a hungrier Northeastern team tonight that raised their level, and my team, for the first time in a long time, didn’t have a lot of energy tonight,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel.

Northeastern (15-6-3, 11-4-1 HEA) rode a dominant performance from its top line—including a hat trick from senior Nolan Stevens—to a commanding win on home ice.

The Huskies came flying out of the gates, hanging a goal on the board just 31 seconds in, when senior Dylan Sikura found himself wide-open on the doorstep and snapped it past UMass goaltender Matt Murray to open the scoring.

Murray settled down for the rest of the period, but the Minutemen couldn’t capitalize on any chances of their own—minutes later, Brett Boeing rang the crossbar, and a very threatening late-period power play saw Niko Rufo, George Mika, and Cale Makar all have chances come to nothing.

The second period got off to as poor a start as the first, as Stevens notched the first of his three goals in spectacular fashion just 46 seconds in; a miscue from Jake McLaughlin allowed Stevens in on goal, and the Husky captain managed to shovel it past Murray with only one hand on his stick and McLaughlin draped all over him to double the lead.

“The back-breaker was the goal on the first shift in the first minute of the second period,” Carvel said. “I think after that our guys, mentally, probably thought it was a little too much to overcome and our energy level dipped, and that’s the first time I’ve seen that out of my team in a long time.”

The first goal was Stevens’ 100th point for Northeastern, but he wasn’t done, as he danced past Ivan Chukarov at the left dot and flicked a wicked wrister high-glove past Murray to make it 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

The Huskies added two more in the final frame, including Stevens’ third of the game and 16th of the year, as the hats rained down from the stands with Northeastern holding a 5-0 lead that held until the final buzzer.

Things got a bit chippy late, as with under five minutes to go, five penalties were assessed during the same stoppage, including a game misconduct for Stevens and a 10-minute misconduct for Minuteman Brett Boeing.

Stevens would finish with three goals, an assist and an ejection in an eventful evening for the Husky captain.

It was an unfortunate night for Murray, whose final line saw him charged with five goals on 33 shots, making 28 saves in just over 55 minutes between the pipes. The scoreline is probably deceiving; Murray was actually one of UMass’ few bright spots, making several key saves that kept things from getting out of hand even earlier.

“He played well,” said Carvel of Murray. “The second goal was the only one that you wish he made the save there, but I thought he played well this weekend. It’s helped, but it has to be sustained.”

The Minutemen were outshot 37-19, and their offensive silence was a product of both poor finishing and poor chance-creation. Power plays in both the first and second periods produced a plethora of chances but no goals to show for it, as Northeastern netminder Cayden Primeau turned away all 19 shots he saw on Saturday.

“The chances that we did have it was poor finishing, but tonight’s the first time in a while we were out-chanced pretty heavily,” Carvel said. “We’ve been doing a good job out-chancing our opponent, but tonight it was the other way around.

“We battled, about halfway through the game, as you saw in the second half, we lost energy. We’ve got a lot of young kids that we play the hell out of, and it’s really the first time I’ve felt that way about our team.”

UMass continues this tough stretch of schedule on Tuesday, heading to Chestnut Hill to take on No. 16 Boston College at 7 p.m.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.

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