Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Chukarov breaks scoring drought, energizes No. 1 UMass to 3-1 victory

Game-tying goal snapped a five-period span of scoreless play

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Chukarov breaks scoring drought, energizes No. 1 UMass to 3-1 victory

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Liam Flaherty, Collegian Staff

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Spurred by Ivan Chukarov’s first goal since the 2016-17 season, the Massachusetts hockey team stormed back from a 1-0 deficit in the third period and defeated No. 8 Quinnipiac on Saturday.

With the Minutemen unable to find the back of the net for the first 45 minutes of action at the Mullins Center, the senior defenseman came up clutch for No. 1 UMass and scored in a very unexpected situation.

After Chukarov ended the five-period scoring drought that stretched all the way back to Friday’s 4-0 shutout loss, the Minutemen (13-2-0, 7-0-0 Hockey East Association) opened the floodgates.

Three minutes later, Jacob Pritchard beat Keith Petruzzelli (37 saves) to earn the game-winner, while Bobby Trivigno iced the victory with an empty-net goal to finalize the bounce-back win.

“I was excited for [Chukarov],” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “He’s been through ups and downs here. He’s been the seventh defensemen and he’s a senior on a very young team, but he’s a good kid. He tries to do everything right and you’re just happy to see him get rewarded.”

For Chukarov, a 2015 NHL draft pick of the Buffalo Sabers, the game-tying goal was a relief.

“When I saw [it] go in and fans started going nuts, it built some momentum and got the energy going,” he said. “After that the guys were rolling. It felt like we were all over them at that point.”

The series of events that led to Chukarov breaking open the scoring drought was the result of a message that Carvel sent to the Minutemen in the locker room during the second intermission.

“Petruzzelli, for two periods, looked really calm in the net and looked like he was seeing everything, so we talked about getting in front of his eyes and Chukarov scored becuase we were in his eyes,” Carvel said following the top-10 victory. “I’m not sure who was at the net, but I couldn’t see the goalie from the bench, so our guys were doing a good job of blocking him.”

With Petruzzelli screened for one of the first times all night, freshman defenseman Colin Felix found the puck at the center of the faceoff circle and sent it over to Chukarov in the slot.

In one motion, the senior from Des Plaines, Illinois, curled his stick, turned towards the net, and unleashed a wrister that found its way through three Bobcat (14-3-0 ECAC) defenders and past the unsuspecting blocker of Petruzzelli to give the crowd of 8,412 what it had been waiting for.

Finally on the board, top-ranked UMass took control and never looked back to secure the win.

“We just don’t quit,” Chukarov said of the effort. “Even if we’re not scoring, we’re still battling and trying to get those pucks to the net. That was a character win and it showed a lot out of us.”

The Minutemen are back in action on Tuesday, in the first-half finale against Yale in Amherst.

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

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