Late offensive push wills No. 2 UMass past No. 18 Yale

Minutemen conclude first half at 14-2-0

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(Daily Collegian / Will Katcher)

By Liam Flaherty, Collegian Staff

After surrendering a 2-0 advantage in the third period, the Massachusetts hockey team responded 54 seconds later and ultimately defeated Yale, 5-2 on Tuesday, to conclude the first half of the season.

Jake Gaudet and Oliver Chau got the scoring started in the first and second periods, respectively, before Gaudet came up big once again in the third and potted the game-winner for his second of the season.

The win comes as No. 2 UMass’ sixth over a ranked opponent. The Minutemen (14-2-0, 7-0-0 Hockey East Association) remain undefeated (8-0) at home and enter the break atop of the league standings.

“We’ve finished off the first semester in a strong fashion,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “We played real well tonight. First period I thought we could’ve been ahead by a couple goals instead of one, [but] I loved the response from my team. We just kind of found another gear and finished the game in style.”

After failing to score in first periods over the weekend, the Minutemen came firing out of the gates.

Following a clean breakout pass from Ivan Chukarov, who scored the game-tying goal in Saturday’s top-10 victory, Mitchell Chaffee collected the puck in stride and made a drop-pass to Chau on the circle.

With speed, Chau made a drop-pass of his own to Gaudet in the slot, who snapped it home past No. 18 Yale’s goalie Sam Tucker to build an early, 1-0 lead in front of 4,587 watching the midweek showdown.

In the second, UMass found its groove on the power play and built on its lead.

After Ty Farmer sent a shot on net that rebounded into the crease, Philip Lagunov tapped it over to Chau, who slammed it home past Tucker to make it 2-0, signaling his second point of the night.

Prior to Chau’s tally, the high-powered Minutemen power play hadn’t scored since Nov. 30.

32 seconds into the final frame, Luke Stevens cut the Bulldogs’ deficit in half when he scored his fourth of the season after a faceoff win. Five minutes later, Robbie DeMontis scored his first to tie it up at two.

But, as they’ve done so many times, the Minutemen responded to the equalizer in hearty fashion.

Just after DeMontis made things interesting, Gaudet soared back into the picture and scored his second of the night, finding a bouncing puck in the crease and slamming it home for the game-winner.

“I think we had a really solid game,” Gaudet said of his line, which is the top line. “We kind of slipped a little bit at the start of the third, so to get that third goal and take the lead again was great for us.

“So far this year we’ve had a lot of success in the third and I think we’ve gained a lot of experience,” he added. “Whether or not were down a couple of goals and need to come back or have a one goal lead and need to keep it, I think that way, even though they came back and tied it in the third, it was kind of a cool confidence [on the bench]. We know that if we keep playing our game, we’re going to be okay.”

From there, UMass would not look back. Fueled by third period goals from Mitchell Chaffee, his 11th of the season, and Philip Lagunov’s fifth as a sophomore, the Minutemen locked up the concluding victory.

With just two losses through the first half of the season, UMass is out to its best start in history and, following a shorter winter break than usual, Carvel said the group will be ready when the time comes.

“We’ve got a great team,” Carvel, in his third season, said. “They’re a group that’s completely willing to doing things the right way and it’s a real pleasure. We combine skill, speed, grit, character; lot of qualities that have gotten us to this point. So, great way to finish the semester. They now get a well-deserved break and we have to crank it back up and get back to this level when we get back in January.”

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