UMass club hockey splits weekend set against Keene State and Vermont

By Ryan Ames

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(Nicole Evangelista/ Daily Collegian)

(Nicole Evangelista/ Daily Collegian)

Senior forward Alex Rojas and freshman forward Cam Fisher scored two goals apiece and the Massachusetts club hockey team cruised to a 4-0 shutout win over Vermont Saturday night at the Mullins Center.

Fisher got the scoring started for UMass after a nice individual effort at six minutes, 10 seconds into the first period. He entered the offensive zone with speed, made a couple dekes around a Catamounts defender, got a shot on goal and promptly hammered home the rebound chance to give the Minutemen an early lead. Sophomore Ted Zimmerman was credited with the assist.

UMass (10-5-1) controlled the pace of play throughout much of the first period playing almost entirely in the offensive zone, as well as establishing a physical presence handing out a few big hits.

“That’s our style of play, we may not be the biggest team but we’re physical,” Minutemen head coach Mike DeFazio said regarding the physical play. “We try to out-hustle and out-hit every team we face and it was successful here for us tonight.”

The second period began with an early goal after Rojas tallied his first of the night putting UMass up by two.

Rojas found the back of the net once again recording his second goal 12:53 into the second period off a delayed penalty by Vermont.

“(Rojas) is one of our gifted goal scorers out there so it’s obviously good to have guys like him who you can rely on to score goals,” DeFazio said.

UMass continued to play in high gear in the second period with gritty play and numerous scoring chances.

Entering the third period, the Minutemen held all the momentum with a three-goal advantage along with stingy defensive zone play.

Just over halfway through the third, Fisher got his second of the night by redirecting Zimmerman’s shot right in front of the Vermont goaltender. It was the last scoring play of the game and ultimately sealed the victory for the Minutemen who secured the shutout.

Starting goaltender Connor Walker was replaced by sophomore Dan Graham following Fisher’s second goal. DeFazio was pleased with both goalies’ performances, as they combined for a shutout.

“Walker has earned his spot as one of the better goalies we have and Graham has worked extremely hard in practice, so once we had the lead we got him in there to reward him for his hard work,” DeFazio said.

An overall dominating performance by UMass came as a result of consistent quality scoring chances combined with timely saves from the goaltenders to propel the Minutemen to their 10th win of the season.

Although UMass came out with the win, junior forward Adam Kmetz left the game late in the third with an injury and did not return.

“Looks like a broken clavicle for Adam,” DeFazio said. “The trainer said if he doesn’t need surgery he’ll be out until February or March. If he does need surgery, we’re looking at a five to six-month recovery time.”

This could prove costly for the Minutemen down the road as Kmetz is one of the most reliable scorers UMass has to offer.

UMass loses 4-2 to Keene State Friday

On Friday night, the Minutemen lost a close battle to Keene State by a final of 4-2.

Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, UMass senior Brian Collins cut the deficit to one after a hard wrist shot beat the Keene State goalie less than five minutes into the period.

But the Owls rebounded to score the next goal and restore a two-goal lead.

UMass kept things interesting after Rojas scored a rebound goal with two minutes remaining in regulation to bring the game to within one once again.

Just seconds later however, the Minutemen pulled their goalie to gain the extra man with just over a minute remaining. With about 20 seconds left, Keene State scored on the empty net to secure the win.

UMass returns to action Tuesday night when it travels to Worcester for a matchup with Holy Cross. The Minutemen play again at home next Saturday against highly-ranked William Paterson University, with puck drop scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected]