The Massachusetts hockey team couldn’t complete the weekend sweep over No. 8/7 Providence on Saturday night, losing 7-2 to its Hockey East Association opponent.
In the second game of the home and home series, the Friars (6-4-0, 3-3-0 HEA) took an early lead and later ran away with the contest thanks to five power play goals on eight opportunities.
UMass (5-6-0, 2-3-0 HEA) tied things at one with a goal from freshman John Leonard but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced Providence team that was fueled by two goals from Brian Pinho and two on the power play from Ben Mirageas.
Freshman goaltender Matt Murray got the start in net for the Minutemen and allowed 7 goals while making 39 saves. Hayden Hawkey stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in route to his sixth victory of the season.
“They came out hard as we expected they would,” coach Greg Carvel said. “5-on-5 our game was fine. We took a lot of penalties and that was the major difference, their effectiveness on the power play.”
The Friars got things going on the scoreboard just five minutes into the game when Pinho scored his first of the night.
UMass, which has yet to win a game after letting up the first goal this season, responded quickly and tied it up 1-1 thanks to Leonard’s fourth goal of the season.
“[Leonard’s] our best forward and you could really tell when he wasn’t in our lineup,” Carvel said. “He’s a power forward that can score, he can play heavy with speed and he’s one of the few guys that can shoot to score goals in our lineup. It’s very good to have him back.”
Philip Lagunov, a freshman center, tallied his fifth assist of the season on the goal that upped Leonard’s point total to nine.
With freshman Austin Albrecht scoring his first career goal in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Providence, Lagunov became the only remaining first-year Minuteman that has yet to score.
“He’s a good player I think the reason he probably hasn’t scored is because he’s more of a perimeter player and that’s why he’s getting the assists,” Carvel said. “The rest of his game is good. He’s a good young player, just the puck hasn’t bounced his way. I think if he tries a little harder to get to the net front, he’ll eventually score that first goal.”
Even though the game was tied, the Friars were noticeably on a mission and went on to score four straight power play goals that drastically widened their lead.
One from Scott Conway, two from Ben Mirages and Pinho’s second of the game put Providence ahead 5-1 just over four minutes into the second period.
Marco Bozzo scored his second goal of the season at 13:54 of the second and cut the deficit to three. Austin Plevy was credited with the assist, his first point in six appearances this season.
Erik Foley and Kasper Björkqvist each added goals which resulted in the Friars’ final two tallies on the night. Björkqvist’s came as Providence’s fifth power play goal of the night.
“They were moving the puck around really well, shooting it and retrieving it really well,” Carvel said. “They did a really good job, we tried to pressure and force them into mistakes but they executed better than we did. It’s pretty impressive what they did on the power play tonight.”
Despite allowing seven goals, Murray, who made his first start in goal for the Minutemen since their 3-0 loss to New Hampshire Nov. 4, wasn’t the sole source for UMass’ five-goal defeat.
“It’s rare that a goalie gives up seven goals and you thought he played pretty well but that was the case tonight,” Carvel said. “[Murray] made a lot of big saves.”
Minuteman forward Jake Gaudet made his return to the UMass lineup Saturday, after missing the previous three games with an undisclosed injury.
Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.