UMass club hockey bests UConn and UVM in back-to-back games over the weekend

By Zander Manning

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(Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts club hockey team entered this weekend’s games against Vermont and Connecticut still uncertain about its spot in the playoffs, which are fast approaching.

“It’s definitely a win we needed, I think we locked up our playoff spot, it’s always good to come out and get a win on senior night,” coach Mike DeFazio said.

UMass rides momentum of Litwack’s hat-trick in 6-2 win over Vermont

 During senior night on Saturday, it was back and forth all night until senior forward Casey Litwack scored his third goal of the game with five minutes left in the second period to spark a run of four unanswered goals by the Minutemen (15-10-2) to give them a 6-2 victory over UVM (10-7-1), sweeping the weekend series.

 “It’s definitely a win we needed, I think we locked up our playoff spot, it’s always good to come out and get a win on senior night,” UMass coach Mike DeFazio said.

For Litwick, this marks his first career hat trick.

“What else could you ask for? It’s the perfect ending to a great career here with all my friends,” Litwack said.

With two minutes left in the second period, fellow senior forward Adam Kmetz scored, giving the Minutemen a 4-2 lead. Three minutes into the third period, junior forward Terrence Doonan scored to put UMass ahead 5-2.

Then with six minutes left, the Minutemen put the Catamounts away with their sixth goal of the game when Rob Tirea beat UVM goalie Ethan Loo blocker side.

UMass freshman goalie Ryan LaCroix shined for the Minutemen with 30 saves on 32 shots.

“When we went up 4-2 I felt so much weight lift off my shoulders,” goalie Ryan LaCroix said.

The game was back and forth in the beginning with Vermont going up seven minutes in as Dylan Burns scored. Two minutes into the second period Casey Litwack scored his first goal.

After Artie Potter was called for tripping with 11 minutes left in the second period, Litwack took a turnover from the Catamount defense and scored a shorthanded goal on the breakaway.

UVM’s Nick Levinsky tied it 2-2 just two minutes later.

UMass defeats UConn 5-2 on Friday night

 On Friday night, the Mintuemen jumped out to an early 1-0 on UConn lead on a goal by senior forward Adam Kmetz and never looked back, ending up with a 5-2 victory over the Huskies.

 On Friday night, junior goalie Connor Walker got the start in net after taking not playing the previous weekend (illness).

Walker said it felt good to get back on the ice and DeFazio said he played him to keep him fresh in case he needs him in the playoffs.

“He’s been playing well. Towards the end of first semester, (Walker) got his game back,” DeFazio said. “He looked good, gave us a chance to win.”

UMass went up two minutes into the first period and never looked back after Kmetz’s initial score. With two minutes left in the period, sophomore forward Cam Fisher scored making it 2-0.

The Huskies came back and scored their first goal of the game with six minutes left in the second period, junior defenseman Connor Todd scored while falling down to cut the score from 2-1.

With five minutes left in the second period, junior defenseman Dennis Medeiros was called for elbowing, and Anthony Lespasio scored a shorthanded goal 30 seconds into the penalty, his first goal since the fall semester, to give the Minutemen a 3-1 lead.

Four minutes into the third period, sophomore defenseman Artie Potter put UMass up 4-1. UConn’s defenseman Josh Back scored with six minutes left to make it 4-2, but with 1:40 left in the game UMass sophomore forward Robert Tiera scored to put the Huskies away and make it 5-2.

Next weekend, the Minutemen play their final regular season games before the playoffs when they take on Florida Gulf-Coast for two games on the road during their final series of the regular season.

Going into the playoffs, DeFazio isn’t sure who he will start in goal, but next weekend should tell him what he needs to know to make that decision.

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