Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Offense comes alive for UMass in opening round series-clinching win

Minutemen beat Vermont 5-1

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(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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With an elimination game on hand and the season at stake, the Massachusetts hockey team exploded for five goals in its 5-1 Game 3 victory over Vermont Sunday afternoon at the Mullins Center.

UMass (17-18-2) potted two goals in the first and second periods and added a beautiful goal in the third from freshman John Leonard to win the opening round series against the Catamounts (10-20-7) 2-1.

“I haven’t been able to figure it out yet and I’m always trying to, to make sure we’re ready to go,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. “It’s hard for me to tell. All I know is, I say it all the time, we’re a fairly consistent team and for the most part the kids come to play hard. Some nights you get a little more than the others.”

UMass’ series-clinching win marked the sixth time where the Minutemen scored five or more goals in a game this season. Putting 124 shots to Vermont goalie Stefanos Lekkas over the three-game set including the 11 goals scored, UMass’ pressure broke through in a big way Sunday.

“I think anytime you can kind of get off to an early lead there it helps you kind of get in the game,” Leonard said. “We knew (Ryan) Wischow had our back no matter what so for Mario (Ferraro) to score that early that really helped us. We just used that momentum to carry throughout the game.”

Ferraro scored a nice wraparound goal 2:40 into regulation to give the Minutemen a quick 1-0 lead. The goal counted as Ferraro’s 21st point of the year to set the new UMass record for most points by a freshman defenseman in the Hockey East era.

“It’s something I’m very proud of,” Ferraro said. “At the end of the day all of the credit does go my teammates and the coaching staff here for giving me those opportunities.”

“What a great kid to get that honor,” added Carvel. “He’s so unassuming, he works his tail off every single night, every shift. It’s an honor to coach that kid. He’s just unbelievable.

Ferraro finished the contest with two points as the King City, Ontario native tallied an assist on Jake Gaudet’s first period goal, moving up to 22 points.

The top line of Oliver Chau, Gaudet and Mitchell Chaffee finished with four points among them and appeared to have rekindled its chemistry from earlier in the season.

“All these freshmen, they hit the wall at different times. It’s not unexpected,” Carvel said. “Chaffee hasn’t hit the wall all year and I think this weekend he hit the wall. He didn’t have his usual effect on the games and Gaudet, I challenged Gaudet. He’s capable with his size to be a big powerful forward and tonight he was, he absolutely was.

“Chau makes plays, he’s been in a bit of a slump as far as not scoring goals, and I said ‘Oliver if you want to score just go to the front of the net and bend your knees and you’ll score a goal,’ and that’s what he did.”

Austin Albrecht scored his fourth goal in five games in the second period and has been a spark plug in the bottom-six forward group over the recent weeks.

“When he scores, like the goal last game to put us ahead 3-2, it looked like a magic trick,” Carvel said. “It kind of surprises me how he scores, but he’s an offensive player. He’s heating up at the right time and I’m happy for him because when you’re an offensive player you get frustrated when you don’t get points in a while but he’s becoming very consistent.”

Up next the Minutemen head to Boston to face off against the No. 1 ranked offense in Hockey East in Northeastern, and will look to keep their scoring prowess at full speed.

 

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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