UMass club hockey comes out of weekend travel series with two wins

By Zander Manning

UMass' Kevin Burk makes a diving effort to get a shot off on January 31 2015. (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)
UMass’ Kevin Burk makes a diving effort to get a shot off on January 31 2015. (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

On its last road trip of the fall semester, the Massachusetts club hockey team promptly swept past both opponents by scores of 2-1 and 5-3.

On Friday at RPI, the Minutemen (11-8-2) rode a brilliant performance by junior goaltender Connor Walker and defeated the Redhawks 2-1 in overtime. On Saturday, however, coach Mike DeFazio gave Walker the night off and the Minutemen defeated the Saints 5-2 off the strength of three points from Scott Campbell.

“We definitely needed (these wins),” DeFazio said. “These were two teams we needed to beat to help us in the rankings. We did exactly what we needed to do.”

Minutemen roll past Saints 5-2 on the road

On Saturday, the Minutemen also trailed only once, despite having freshman goaltender Ryan Lacriox in net. With 14 minutes left in the first period, Sienna scored to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.

UMass then scored four unanswered goals starting with the equalizer from sophomore forward Cam Fisher assisted by both sophomore forward Danny Baldino and forward Scott Campbell — one of three points (two goals, one assist) on the night for Campbell.

Campbell scored with 13 minutes left in the period to give the Minutemen a 2-1 lead and again shorthanded with six minutes left — giving the Minutemen a 3-1 lead late in the second period.

“We balanced him out a bit,” DeFazio said. “We got him on a line with a smart, defensive center and Cam Fisher, one of our fastest wings…. It’s good to see him being more consistent, going to need him to be more consistent come playoff time.”

With four minutes to play in the second period, sophomore forward Rob Tirea put the nail on the Saints’ coffin when he scored his second goal of the weekend to put UMass up 4-1 late in the second period.

With under a minute to go in the period, sophomore forward Artie Potter scored to put the Minutemen up 5-1. The Saints would score again with 1:15 left in the third period to make it 5-2.

UMass was forced to hold junior forward Anthony Lespasio, senior forward Casey Litwack, senior defenseman Alan Haynes and junior defenseman Patrick Baker (all upper body injuries) out of the third period for precautionary measures.

According to DeFazio, all are expected to return when the team resumes action in January, with the possible exception of Haynes.

Minutemen defeat RPI in tight 2-1 overtime road victory

The game was still scoreless at the start of the third period. The Minutemen started it down two men after Fisher and senior Jason Goldsmith were sent to the penalty box at the end of the second. In a potential turning point, UMass killed the 5-on-4 penalty and kept the score deadlocked at zero.

The Redhawks would score just two minutes after the penalties expired to break the stalemate and take the 1-0 lead. However, the Minutemen bounced back with Tirea scoring the equalizing goal with six minutes to play in the third period.

UMass went on to win 2-1 two minutes into overtime on a goal by junior defenseman Dennis Medeiros.

A look ahead

In the coming weeks, UMass gets a break from hockey and gets some time to rest as fellow juniors Ted Zimmerman and Jake Mercier look to come back from injury.

DeFazio has confidence in newcomer Garrett Torrico who is expected to transfer from the University of Tampa, where he compiled over 80 points in the 2015-16 season.

The Minutemen get back on the ice on Jan. 20 when they host to Keene State.

“We’re a team that needs a break to get us back on track,” DeFazio said. “We’re 5-1-1 in last seven games. We need to give our top guys time to heal.  Hopefully they don’t eat too much and stay in shape.”

Zander Manning can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.