The Massachusetts hockey team won the first of two contests against Connecticut Friday night at Mullins, using a three-goal surge in a span of 78 seconds late in the second period to secure a 4-2 victory for the Minutemen.
The matchup counts as UMass’s third straight victory of the season, improving to 8-6-0 overall and 3-3-0 in the Hockey East Association. The Minutemen came back from a 2-1 deficit in the first period to tally three unanswered goals in the win.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Carvel said. “These kids are figuring out their identity, they’re figuring out what makes them a good team.”
UConn could not contain UMass in the second period as it held an 18-5 shot advantage heading into the third which proved to be the game decider. The Huskies fall to 6-11-2 overall and 4-7-1 in Hockey East play.
Cale Makar ignited the goal spree in the middle frame after taking the puck up the right side of the ice all by himself before dishing it back to a trailing George Mika, who bashed the puck home to knot the game at two apiece.
Just 29 seconds later Jack Suter capitalized on a scrum around the Huskie goalie crease to take a 3-2 lead at 18:32, and one the Minutemen would not surrender. The goal counted as the sophomore’s first of the season.
Mitchell Chaffee finished off the UMass frenzy after putting back a loose rebound past UConn goalie Adam Huska following a long slap-shot by Ivan Chukarov. Chaffee’s tally counted as his sixth of the season.
“We hadn’t had much to show for halfway through the game but those three goals in a minutes and 18 seconds at the end of the second period were well deserved,” Carvel said.
“I think we stuck to our game plan all night,” George Mika said. “Good things pay off when you’re playing the right way.”
With just over 11 minutes remaining in the second period, goaltender Ryan Wischow was forced to make two breakaway saves to keep the Minutemen within one during the second period. His efforts sparked UMass’s success for the rest of the night.
“Those are huge saves. Wischow definitely bailed us out,” Carvel said. “He’s a confident kid and when his play combines with his attitude it’s effective.”
The Minutemen went straight on the penalty kill at the start of the game when Jake Gaudet got caught hooking seven seconds in. Alexander Payusov capitalized on the man-advantage for UConn to put his team on the board first.
A minute and 34 seconds later UMass retaliated when Austin Plevy slid a great feed across the ice to Josh Couturier who hit a one-timer past Huska to tie the game at one.
“5-on-5 I thought we were outstanding tonight,” Carvel said. “We had a full week to prepare for these guys and I think our game plan was executed very well.”
The Huskies continued their stellar performance on the power play when Benjamin Freeman capitalized on their second man-advantage of the game. The goal completed a 2-3 power play performance from UConn in the first period but would be their last tally of the night.
Wischow accumulated 25 saves in his third start in net, including 11 in the third period. Huska was forced to make 15 saves in the middle frame contributing to his eventual 27 total saves.
“Second period was a lot of action going on. I just kind of felt it was coming,” Wischow said. “When you get a lead like that going into the third we’ve got enough confidence in our guys to just shut it down.”
UMass travels to Hartford this upcoming Tuesday to compete in the second half of the series. Puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m.
Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MWalker2019.