Anthony Lespasio’s hat trick leads UMass club hockey to 5-2 victory over RPI

By Ryan Ames

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

A hat trick from freshman Anthony Lespasio powered the Massachusetts club hockey team to a convincing 5-2 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Friday night at the Mullins Center.

Lespasio started the scoring for UMass by recording a power play goal eight minutes, 39 seconds into the first period. After an Engineers slashing penalty, the Minutemen won the ensuing offensive zone face-off and, following some good puck movement, Lespasio was found open and deposited it into the open net. Brian Collins and Peter Kelly were credited with the assists.

UMass never gave up the lead in Friday’s affair, and after an RPI goal cut the Minutemen lead to 2-1 in the second period, UMass rattled off three straight goals to put the game out of reach.

Lespasio’s second goal came 4:46 into the second period when he caught an attempted RPI clearing pass mid-air and banged it past the unsuspecting Engineer goaltender for UMass’ third goal of the game.

RPI scored its first goal just a minute before off a quick wrist shot from the point.

Lespasio’s final tally came once again on the power play less than a minute after his second goal. Similar to his first goal, UMass worked the puck around the zone with ease and found Lespasio all alone for the tap-in goal. Mark Fidler and Brian Collins had the assists on the play.

Assistant coach Scott Cook praised Lespasio’s dominating performance following the game.

“He played excellent (Friday). Every night he comes out and plays hard and his linemates really helped him out especially on the power play, so it was good to see him get rewarded out there,” Cook said.

The game began with big hits and rough play, a trend the Minutemen have developed over the season that, for the most part, has produced positive results.

Perhaps the biggest save of the game came less than five minutes into the period after UMass goaltender Connor Walker stonewalled an RPI player on a breakaway attempt. A blocked shot from the point produced the breakaway but Walker was there to shut the door and preserve the tie.

UMass’ second goal came in 4-on-4 when Allan Haynes found an opening down the left side and made a crisp pass over to sophomore Rob Tirea, who beat the Engineers goaltender at 13:40 of the first.

The Minutemen did run into some penalty trouble, committing six in the first period alone with 12 total on the night, but an effective penalty kill allowed UMass to pull away.

“I would really like to see that number go down,” Cook said. “That was definitely the biggest negative, anytime we were down a man it was troublesome for us, so we got to calm down with the penalties because it’s one of those things that can really hurt us in the long run.”

The Minutemen kept attacking inside RPI’s defensive zone in the second period and shook off any rust that was present in the first following their long holiday break entering Friday’s contest.

Captain Ryan Daigle added an insurance goal at 9:47 into the period after a fluke bounce forced a scramble in front of the Engineers net where Daigle ultimately forced it into the open cage.

RPI scored just over a minute later after Walker left a big rebound that was put in by an Engineers forward just outside the crease.

UMass held on for the victory and didn’t allow a single goal in the third period.

Senior Kyle Wakefield summed up his team’s impressive performance.

“The boys came out great after a little time off,” he said. “We got the gravy out of our system early, Lespasio had a game and we stepped up and got it done.”

This was the Minutemen’s first game following their Thanksgiving break, but Cook thought his team responded well in the win.

“It’s a tough stint between the Thanksgiving and Christmas break because it’s such a short time with exams going on so any positives you can take from this win is huge,” he said.

Minutemen steal Saturday’s game vs UConn

Following up on their home win over RPI at the Mullins Center Friday night, the Minutemen traveled to Storrs, Connecticut for the backend of their weekend series in a matchup with Connecticut.

In a low-scoring game, UMass clinched the weekend sweep with a 2-1 win over the Huskies.

Heading into the third period tied at one, Daigle continued his hot streak by scoring the eventual game-winner with 1:13 remaining in the final period. The captain fought through a Huskies defender and beat the opposing goalie to give UMass the decisive 2-1 lead.

Walker got the start again for the Minutemen in net and had another stellar outing, allowing only one goal.

UMass returns to action next weekend on the road with contests against Marist College Friday and Central Connecticut State University Saturday to round out the first half of its season.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected]