A year ago, the Massachusetts hockey team eeked out just five wins over the course of its 36-game schedule.
With 16 games now under its belt in 2017-18, the University of Massachusetts is one win shy of doubling its win total from last season after the Minutemen beat No. 19 Union 2-1 Sunday afternoon to take home their ninth win of the year.
UMass (9-7-0, 3-4-0 Hockey East Association) used goals from freshmen Oliver Chau and Jake Gaudet, as well as a strong bounce back game from goaltender Ryan Wischow to claim the victory over the Dutchmen (10-8-1, 6-2-0 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) in Schenectady.
Sunday’s win came just about two months after the Minutemen beat Union 5-4 at the Messa Rink on Oct. 13, thus giving UMass the season sweep over the Dutchmen.
“I thought we were well prepared for our game tonight,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. “I’m really proud of my group. Union’s a good team, [a] well coached, quality team and it’s nice to go into the break a couple of games above .500.”
It was Union who struck first about halfway into the first period on a Ryan Scarfo deflection goal on J.C. Brassard’s shot from the point making it 1-0 Dutchmen at 7:55.
Union had five total power plays on the night but the first period marker was the only time the Dutchmen capitalized up a man.
Oliver Chau’s power play goal 2:03 later knotted the game back up at 1-1 and gave Chau his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
In the second period UMass found itself on the man-advantage again and this time Gaudet pocketed his second of the year following a Mario Ferraro shot from the blueline that was tipped by Mitchell Chaffee.
The Minutemen finished 2-for-4 on the power play.
“It’s been something we’ve been working on in practice so it’s nice to score goals and help the team,” said Gaudet, who tallied his first goal since Oct. 7 against Arizona State.
“We put him back on the power play to get him with Chaffee and Chau but it was a great shot by [Ferraro], and a great deflection by Chaffee. I hope that helps his confidence moving forward,” said Carvel.
Chaffee and Ferraro each concluded the night with a pair of assists.
Wischow got the start between the pipes for UMass and made 31 saves to move to 6-2-0 on the year.
“We blocked a lot of shots tonight [but] he had a really solid game,” Carvel said.
Shots were even at 32 for both teams over the 60-minute affair.
“The team was very well engaged,” Gaudet said. “I think we excel on a smaller rink having to play at Mullins and it showed again tonight.”
The victory also holds some sentimental value for Carvel as it was his 100th career victory as an NCAA coach.
“When you think about 100 wins it seems like a lot but it goes by so quick,” Carvel said. “You really appreciate how hard your players work. [There’s] good and bad moments but it’s a real pleasure, it’s a real honor to coach at this level.”
As the final game of the semester the Minutemen are now off until January 5 when they square off against Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.
Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.