Jake Gaudet, first line, too much to handle Tuesday night

Gaudet’s two goals highlighted strong night from No. 2 UMass’ first line

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Jake Gaudet, first line, too much to handle Tuesday night

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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All season long, coach Greg Carvel has lauded the Massachusetts hockey team’s first line of Jake Gaudet, Mitchell Chaffee and Oliver Chau.

Chaffee has been the goal-scorer, Chau has been the playmaker and Gaudet has been the heartbeat of a line that has wreaked havoc on the opposition.

In No. 2 UMass’ (14-2-0) 5-2 win over No. 18 Yale (7-3-2), the top trio all contributed in the Minutemen’s second-straight victory to round out the first half play.

Gaudet paced the line with two goals while Chaffee and Chau each registered power-play markers in the win Tuesday night at the Mullins Center.

“I think we’re effective just with cycles down low, in the other team’s end,” Gaudet said. “We play against the top line often and it makes a difference if we can play in their end most of the time. It kind of cuts down their offensive chances so I think we’re really effective that way and we’re just physical, we command a heavy presence.”

Gaudet’s first-period tally against the Bulldogs snapped his scoreless drought that extended back to last season’s playoff series with Vermont. The puck touched the sticks of each of his two linemates before No. 18 whipped a wrister past Yale goalie Sam Tucker from the slot.

“We’ve never been so happy with a guy that hadn’t scored a goal,” coach Greg Carvel said. “It was just a matter of time.”

Along the attacking blueline, Chaffee caught a stretch pass from Ivan Chukarov then took a couple of strides before leaving a drop pass for Chau, who followed suit with a drop pass of his own to an incoming Gaudet, and the sophomore from Ottawa, Ontario cashed in to put the Minutemen up 1-0.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve scored a goal so it’s definitely nice to get on the scoresheet and contribute that way,” Gaudet said.

When those three are in-tune with one another, the puck seems to stick to their blades and never was it more apparent than during Gaudet’s first goal.

Early in the third period, the complexion of the game shifted when Yale scored twice to tie the game up at 2-2. UMass was cruising all game but the Bulldogs used two sudden goals to claim the momentum.

Enter Gaudet.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder swooped in on a loose puck in the Bulldog crease and snapped it into the cage 54 seconds after Yale’s tying goal. The buzz was promptly back with the Minutemen, fueling UMass to scoring twice more before the final horn.

“For sure, I think we had a really solid game up until that part,” Gaudet said about the importance of getting the lead right back. “We kind of slipped a little bit to start the third but to get that third goal and to take the lead again was great for us.”

Carvel mentioned how that line has become the Minutemen’s “shutdown line” not only because of their gaudy numbers, but also because they can subdue the opponent with a heavy shift in the offensive zone.

“Three sophomores, you got Chaffee and Gaudet who are so big and play so heavy, and Chau is a good complement to them,” Carvel said. “Those kids, they are the backbone of our team, that line as I said, we play them against the best lines on the other team and they go out and physically dominate and they score goals.

“You can’t overstate how important Jake Gaudet is to our team,” added Carvel.

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