Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass club hockey beats Northeastern Saturday at home

(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)
(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

This winter season – especially the month of January – has not been kind to a number of varsity sports teams around campus, but the Massachusetts club hockey team has been an exception. Coming off a successful first half of the season, the Minutemen continued their winning ways Saturday night at Mullins Center by defeating Northeastern in a 3-0 shutout victory.

Junior Casey Litwack had a goal and assist, while senior goalie Luke Lepine stopped every shot he faced to lead UMass (18-6-2-2) to the shutout.

“That was a big win for us,” head coach Mike DeFazio said following the game. “This is a game we had circled on our calendars, and the guys came out and played awesomely. I was really happy with their effort on the ice tonight.”

After the game began almost an hour late due to Senior Night festivities from the women’s club hockey team beforehand, it was clear both teams had a lot of pent up energy as the Minutemen and the Huskies traded quality chances early on. The back and forth play continued throughout the first period, but ultimately neither team scored.

UMass came out with strength to begin the second period and put pressure on the Northeastern team right from the drop of the puck. Just two minutes, 53 seconds into the period, freshman Anthony Lespasio broke the deadlock with a slick breakaway goal to give the Minutemen a 1-0 lead. Litwack made a nice clearing pass from the defensive zone to Lespasio, who fought off a Huskie defender and put the puck in the five-hole to put UMass ahead.

About a minute later, a Huskies defender was called for tripping and put the Minutemen on a power play. UMass had trouble getting things going for most of the man-advantage but after a point shot from senior captain Ryan Daigle trickled around the crease, Litwack was there to clean up, hitting it in and extending the lead to 2-0.

The Huskies wouldn’t relent following the Minutemen’s second goal and had the UMass players on their toes for the rest of the period. The Minutemen committed four penalties in that span and gave Northeastern multiple chances to get back in the game. However, the UMass penalty kill was superb, shutting down every NU power play chance.

“Our penalty kill was real good tonight,” DeFazio said. “I think that kept us in a good spot for the remainder of the game.”

At the start of the third, it looked as though the Huskies were starting to mount a comeback, but UMass quickly regained momentum and showed their dominance for the rest of the game.

Before the final horn sounded, sophomore Rob Tirea scored the third and final goal after senior Alex Rojas found him with a nice saucer pass in the slot with just under a minute left in regulation.

DeFazio praised his goalie’s performance after the game.

“Lepine played outstandingly tonight. This whole week he looked really good in practice so we decided to give him the start over [Connor] Walker. The last couple years he’s played well against Northeastern so we figured he’d get the job done tonight, and he did so I was glad with his performance,” he said.

“The team’s going in the right direction now. I think we’re firing on all cylinders so it’s definitely good to see heading into the postseason,” DeFazio continued.

UMass ties UVM 2-2

Alex Rojas scored two goals on the evening, but it wasn’t enough as the Minutemen tied Vermont 2-2.

UMass opened the scoring after Rojas tallied his first of the game with five minutes remaining in the opening period.

The Catamounts tied the game following a Minutemen penalty a little more than halfway through the second period, but Rojas added his second goal soon after to put UMass back on top.

The Catamounts evened the score once again with time ticking down in the period and this score held up for the rest of the night.

Next weekend UMass heads to Wayne, New Jersey to face off against No.1 William Paterson, then returns to Amherst the following night to take on Montclair State at the Mullins Center.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected].

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