Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen bounce back, defeat AIC 6-1 on Saturday

11 skaters recorded points in the road victory

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Minutemen bounce back, defeat AIC 6-1 on Saturday

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

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SPRINGFIELD – The Massachusetts hockey team was in dire need of a bounce back victory in Springfield on Saturday afternoon and it certainly got it with a 6-1 win over American International.

After unexpectedly falling Friday night to UMass Lowell, the Minutemen (14-3-0, 7-1-0 Hockey East Association) quickly found their stride and refused to look back.

Spurred by goals from George Mika, Mitchell Chaffee, John Leonard, Jacob Pritchard, and the Del Gaizo brothers, No. 2 UMass secured its seventh road win of the season and got back on track.

Marc Del Gaizo led all point-getters with four in the final non-conference matchup of the regular season, while Leonard picked up three points for his sixth multi-point game.

“You can’t get your team to the right compete level with three weeks off and it was very evident last night,” Carvel said. “We didn’t hound the puck, we were not as hard and heavy as we were before break. But I thought we were outstanding today. Our game plan was to own the puck in the offensive zone so they couldn’t own it in ours and I thought that we did that in spades.”

“I think we were just more consistent,” Makar added. “I felt that we played well on both ends of the ice. Just off the start we were forechecking very hard and they couldn’t really handle us.”

Before the Minutemen figured out their offensive woes and exploded for six goals however, Chaffee, a sophomore forward, gave them a much-needed boost on the defensive end.

On its first power play of the night just over four minutes in, a Yellow Jacket defender found himself alone on the break, making an effort for a short-handed goal and an early advantage.

Chaffee would not let it happen though, as he chased down the AIC skater making a break for Matt Murray’s (20 saves) crease and used his stick to disrupt the puck and stifle the chance.

Shortly after Chaffee’s efforts to get back to the defensive zone, Mika flew into the Yellow Jackets’ zone with the puck and snapped off a quick backhander past Zackarias Skog (33 saves) to make it 1-0.

The Minutemen doubled their lead just eight minutes later, when Bobby Trivigno made a spectacular individual effort to protect the handle from numerous AIC defenders.

After maintaining possession through a slew of hits, the freshman skittered the puck towards center ice where A. Del Gaizo rushed into the slot and slammed it home for a 2-0 lead.

Chaffee made it 3-0 in favor of UMass just over five minutes into the middle frame on his 12th of the year, but the Yellow Jackets got one back from Shawn McBride just six minutes later.

With time winding down in the second, Marc Del Gaizo tapped home his sixth of the season on a feed from Leonard. For the first time all season, the Del Gaizo brothers both scored in a game.

With a 4-1 lead at the start of the third, the Minutemen broke the game open when Cale Makar connected with Pritchard on a beautiful cross-ice pass to score his eighth goal since transferring.

A minute later, Leonard cleaned up a wraparound attempt from Lagunov that made it 6-1 and marked the 11th different skater to find a point on the scoring sheet (first time since 2015).

“I think we were getting guys to the net more,” said M. Del Gaizo on what changed for the scoring unit from Friday to Saturday. “As a defenseman it was easier to shoot the puck and have someone there. Last night we were too perimeter, but I thought we had it down a lot tonight.”

Although pleased with the scoring depth, Carvel knows a lot more must be done down the stretch as the Minutemen prepare to embark on the Hockey East portion of the schedule.

“We had a really strong first half,” he said. “But in no way do we think we’re at the level that we need to be in March when we start playing for real and when the games really start to matter.”

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

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