Ames: UMass hockey’s compete on full display in win over Providence

Minutemen's most encouraging sign is their competitive spirit.

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Ames: UMass hockey’s compete on full display in win over Providence

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

(Amelia Shaw/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts hockey team probably shouldn’t have won against Providence, Thursday night at Mullins Center.

After jumping out to a quick 2-0 advantage in the first, No.9 UMass felt the pressure in the second and third periods when the Friars were bolting all around the ice, tying the game 2-2 in the process.

No. 4 Providence appeared primed to steal the win from the Minutemen with time ticking down in regulation, but then freshman defenseman Ty Farmer sent an unassuming wrist shot on goal that found the mesh and sent UMass to its 3-2 win.

The Minutemen (7-1-0, 4-0-0 Hockey East Association) fought back when the Friars (5-2-1, 2-1-0 HEA) were leaving it all on the ice and showed hearts of lions in the top-10 showdown.

That never-say-die attitude has fueled UMass in its impressive start and it might be the most encouraging sign the group has shown so far this season.

“I was sitting there and I was saying to myself, we’re going to see what the real character of this group is, because you have a 2-0 lead against a very good team and they did what they do well,” coach Greg Carvel said. “They clawed their way back, they scored two power play goals. I just wanted to sit back and see what [our guys] would do. They played real well in the last ten minutes. We created a lot of chances.”

John Leonard, who tallied a goal and an assist in the victory, feels that’s a staple of the Minutemen play.

“I think we’re taking a lot of pride in that this year,” Leonard said. “No matter what the score is, win or lose, or down one or up one, I think we’re doing the right things. We have good habits out there and at the end of the day it shows.”

When UMass upset then-No. 1 Ohio State, it battled through a ferocious comeback from the Buckeyes in the latter stages of the game, before taking the 6-2 win. Against Merrimack Oct. 27, the Minutemen tied it with under a minute left in regulation and won in overtime, 4-3, in arguably its grittiest game of the year.

UMass has showed a lot of positive signs on the way to its hot start, but perhaps its most impressive trait has been its ability to stay even-keeled when things are going good, or bad.

“They have a confidence about them that they know they are a good team,” Carvel said. “I think we’re a really balanced team. I like the fact that my team, they don’t get rattled… This is just a group that is really unified. They’re a good group of kids, they believe in each other, they battle for each other, and that stuff goes a long way.”

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