Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass club hockey splits weekend series

Minutemen defeat Merrimack, fall to RPI

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Evan Marinofsky, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts club hockey team had a busy weekend, playing Friday night against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, followed by a Saturday night game against Merrimack College.

The Minutemen (17-8-1) split the games, falling to the Engineers 5-4 but beating the Warriors 5-1.

Going into Saturday night’s game with Merrimack, the Minutemen were struggling. They had gone 2-4 since winter break, dropping them to fifth in the ACHA men’s Division II Northeast division.

UMass got on the scoreboard early when senior defenseman Jake Mercier threw the puck on net from the sideboards and freshman Markie Campbell slammed home the rebound to give the Minutemen the lead with 22 seconds left in the first period.

The scoring wouldn’t stop for UMass, as it got on the board again with seven minutes remaining in the second period when freshmen Jude Bonavita crossed the opposing blue line and ripped a wrist shot over the glove of the Merrimack goalie.

But the third period was the true scoring onslaught for the Minutemen, which was something they haven’t had lately.

“We haven’t been scoring a lot lately, so that was a big plus,” Campbell said. “We put up four last game, but we seemed to crack down defensively which helped. We put up five tonight, so even better.”

Senior Terence Doonan began the scoring in the third with a slap shot that he blasted in to make it 3-0 UMass.

The Minutemen didn’t take their foot off the gas, tacking on another goal, this time by junior Arthur Potter on a power-play. It was a one-timer off a tic-tac-toe play that went from the top of the point, down to Mercier, and cross-ice to Potter to make it 4-0.

Less than one minute later, senior Dennis Medeiros added another goal with a wrist shot.

Ninety seconds away from his first shutout of the season, Minutemen goalie Dylan Campbell gave the puck away to Merrimack’s Chris Mahanna who made him pay by scoring and cutting the lead to 5-1. Campbell would finish with 26 saves in a game where UMass outshot Merrimack 49-27.

“We kept it simple,” Campbell said. “Shoot it from anywhere basically and a big thing was getting screens out front too, taking the goalie’s eyes away and then limiting their shots.”

Head coach Mike DeFazio was pleased with his team’s effort in the win.

“I think we were just a faster team,” he said. “Our goal was to get it deep, make them work, cycle the puck, tire them out.”

“They were a little top heavy in their lineup, so that was kind of the goal, and I think you saw that toward the end of the game,” DeFazio continued. “They ran out of gas where our guys didn’t, so that was our goal in the beginning of the game: Let’s wear these guys down, let’s take it to them and capitalize when we get the chance.”

If there was a negative to take out of the performance, it was that UMass was called for eight penalties.

“A lot of stupid penalties,” DeFazio said. “Some I wish we hadn’t taken, some that the refs should have let go. We just have to stay out of the box. We can’t win playoffs with eight penalties [a game].”

While the Minutemen committed bad penalties, they were able to kill all of them off.

“Regardless, that was one of our biggest takeaways,” DeFazio said. “Our penalty kills looked good. It was nice to see that working.”

Campbell spoke after the game about UMass’ approach to killing off penalties.

“A lot of undisciplined penalties, but we were able to bear down,” he said. “Our biggest thing is to just go at the defensemen hard, go out to the points hard, make them force a play and clear the puck hard.”

In the first game of the weekend, the Minutemen fell to RPI 5-4 in a back-and-forth contest.

“We have to put today behind us,” DeFazio said after the loss. “We blew that one; it’s a game we should have won.”

UMass held a 4-3 lead heading into the third period, but the Engineers were able to score a pair of goals in the first six minutes of the period to take the lead. They would hold on the rest of the way.

UMass will be back on the ice for a pair of games this weekend, taking on Connecticut and Vermont.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected]

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