Massachusetts Daily Collegian

With Matt Murray potentially out vs. Northeastern, all eyes turn to Ryan Wischow

UMass hockey heads to Boston for Hockey East quarterfinals

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(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

By Liam Flaherty, Collegian Staff

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Before Sunday’s decisive Game 3 against Vermont at the Mullins Center, the Massachusetts hockey team looked to freshman Matt Murray as its no. 1 goaltender and the one that would be in net throughout the entirety of its playoff run.

But following an injury against UVM (10-20-7) in the second period of Game 2, Murray was a surprise scratch from the Minuteman (17-18-2) lineup just hours before afternoon puck drop in the series finale.

With a last-minute notice and a text from UMass coach Greg Carvel, sophomore goalie Ryan Wischow was quickly thrust into the top goalie spot and forced to play a pivotal role in the do-or-die game that could have put an abrupt end to the Minutemen’s season.

In Wischow’s first appearance in eight games, he made 30 saves on 31 shots and allowed five fewer goals than the six that Vermont got past Murray in the first two nights.

“The guys helped me out a lot,” Wischow said of his performance in the 5-1 win. “Taking away the back post and scoring goals like that, obviously it helps get you into the game and build some confidence. It helps having a game like that and getting the win.”

Prior to departing for Boston to take on Hockey East Association’s second-place Northeastern in the quarterfinal round, UMass held practice in Amherst on Tuesday, which saw Wischow and third-string goaltender Brad Arvanitis suited up and taking reps on the ice, but not Murray.

According to Carvel, the outlook on Murray’s playing status this weekend is not very good.

“We will probably know for sure [Wednesday] if he’s even a possibility, but right now it doesn’t look like it,” Carvel said.

With Murray potentially sidelined for the entire three-game series, all eyes go back to Wischow, who Carvel said won’t need to put on a superhuman performance for UMass to succeed.

“We won’t win the series if he has to be the difference maker. We’re not a team that relies on our goalies to steal games,” Carvel said. “[Wischow] just needs to be steady and make the saves he’s supposed to make.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Wisconsin echoed the sentiments of his coach and referred to Sunday’s game as a template for similar success moving into the weekend.

“It’s going to take everybody,” Wischow said. “We’re going to have to check really well, and the goalies are going to need to make some big saves. We’re focusing a lot on our defensive habits right now and a lot of that rides on the goalie. You just have to find a way to make the saves.”

With so much uncertainty surrounding which Minuteman will get the start in net on Friday, Wischow said he is approaching the lead-up to Game 1 no differently than any other.

“You just try to prepare the same way every day,” he said. “It’s tough, especially going into a playoff series, but you just try to focus on the simple things in practice, do what you can and just worry about yourself. I hope [Murray] gets healthy, but I’m just trying to focus on myself and, if I play, give my team an opportunity to win.”

Wischow didn’t see action in either matchup of the home-and-home series with the Huskies (21-8-5) earlier this season, but said he is working hard to familiarize himself with the tendencies of the team that leads the league in both scoring offense and defense.

“Our coaches work hard for us digesting what [teams] do and dissecting it into film so we can watch their forecheck and those kinds of things,” he said. “I’m just trying to focus up in practice and sure up some things that I need to work on after watching film from [Sunday]. I’m going to do everything that I can to be prepared if I get the call.”

“He’s working hard, he has been working hard,” Carvel said. “He’ll be ready.”

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.

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