Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey hands UConn first loss in seven games

Minutemen slide up to eighth place in Hockey East with victory over Huskies

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UMass hockey hands UConn first loss in seven games

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

By Mollie Walker, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts hockey team edged out Connecticut, 3-2, snapping the Huskies’ seven-game winning streak, Thursday night in Hartford.

With the win UMass (14-17-2, 8-13-2 Hockey East Association) earned its 14th victory of the season, the most since the 2009-10 season, and slid into eighth place in the Hockey East standings, in the process.

“We went into the game knowing that UConn was playing very well and very much so playing a playoff style,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “It felt like we had a game plan that really neutralized them tonight on their home ice.”

UConn (15-17-2, 11-12-1 HEA) found itself trailing 2-1 heading into the final frame of play after going scoreless in the second period. Outshooting the Minutemen 12-5 throughout the third, Jesse Schwartz broke through and sent the tying goal past UMass goalie Matt Murray with just 1:20 left in play.

Twelve seconds later, Makar wristed home the game-winning tally from the top of the right faceoff circle. Referees brought the play under review as UConn netminder Tanner Creel called for interference, but the goal stood and counted for Makar’s fourth of the season.

“Those can be back breakers but for us to turn around and come right back down the ice,” Carvel said. “It’s nice to see Cale finally get rewarded, I said this a lot lately, he’s been creating a lot of scoring chances.

“We walk away from that game with a ton of positives and maybe the biggest one being we showed that even as a young team we’re able to play a playoff style game by the way we check and how we kept the game close,” Carvel added.

The Minutemen were outshot 26-22, though their resilient performance in a scoreless second period carried them with momentum into the third. Carvel believes the team did an effective job limiting the Huskies offense, feeling the pressures of needing a win on the road.

The Huskies struck first with just under eight minutes remaining in the opening frame as Spencer Naas beat Murray stick side for his first goal of the season. George Mika answered for the Minutemen at the 14:48 mark, ripping a dish from Niko Hildenbrand past Creel to tie the game 1-1.

Roughly two minutes later, Austin Albrecht sent the puck five-hole through Creel to take the 2-1 lead. The goal was reviewed but stood and counted as Albrecht’s second goal of the season.

Murray earned the win in net for the Minutemen, turning aside 24 shots and improving his record to 7-11-2. Creel posted 19 saves.

“I don’t think my team necessarily needs to be resilient because they’re so consistent,” Carvel said. “They just keep going, they know what’s expected of them.”

UMass wraps up its season Saturday night at the Mullins Center when the Minutemen welcome No. 7 Providence in the season finale.

 

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter at MWalker2019.

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