No. 2 UMass holds on for 4-2 win vs. Maine

Minutemen earn first victory at Alfond since 2012

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

Another hostile environment, another win.

In a building where the Massachusetts hockey team hadn’t won since 2012, No. 2 UMass came away victorious with a 4-2 win over Maine at Alfond Arena.

The Minutemen (19-4-0, 11-2-0 Hockey East Association) scored the game’s first goal and never trailed against the Black Bears (8-12-3, 4-6-3 HEA) Friday night.

Marc Del Gaizo sent a seemingly harmless shot on Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman from the blueline, but the Black Bear netminder fumbled the puck and it found its way past the goal line, giving UMass a 1-0 lead at 3:01.

The Minutemen quickly found out that the Black Bears would not go away quietly as Filip Lindberg—making his first start in goal since Dec. 7 at Quinnipiac—made a pair of high-pressure stops to keep the advantage in UMass’ favor.

Lindberg finished the contest with 25 saves.

“We didn’t show up in the first period,” coach Greg Carvel said. “I was happier with our effort in the overtime loss to Northeastern than I was tonight.

“It was an ugly game.”

In the second period, the Minutemen’s power play continued its torrid pace and helped right the ship with another goal, courtesy of Mr. Man-Advantage himself, Jacob Pritchard.

Along the far wall, Ty Farmer took a couple strides forward and found Pritchard on the back post and the graduate transfer tapped it in, doubling UMass’ lead to 2-0.

Pritchard upped his season point total to 29 on the goal, with 18 of those points coming on the power play.

“I thought Ty Farmer made an unbelievable pass to set that goal up,” Carvel said.

Maine did not let the two-goal deficit deter its effort, as it scored in the latter half of the stanza on a hard-working play from Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, bringing it to 2-1 at 14:54. Brendan Robbins’ initial shot bounced around the crease, causing Lindberg to lose his bearings, before Schmidt-Svejstrup crashed in and pushed the puck into the net.

The third period was tight, with neither squad willing to give up much. It wasn’t until a rush up the ice from Mario Ferraro that the Minutemen added to their lead. Following a nifty move around a Black Bear defender in the far faceoff dot, Ferraro left the puck for Mitchell Chaffee and No. 21 rifled it past Swayman for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.

“I just saw we had an odd-man rush and I heard [Chaffee] yelling for it, I didn’t even see him,” Ferraro said about the third goal.

Once again, Maine refused to relent and made it a one-goal game late in the third period on Emil Westerlund’s tally with the extra-man on the ice.

The 3-2 score was short-lived, however, as Cale Makar punched his ninth goal into the empty-cage at 19:52, sealing the win for UMass.

Makar’s two-point night (goal, assist) and Chaffee’s goal brought the duo to 50 career points.

The Minutemen will be right back to work tomorrow against the Black Bears as they look for the sweep in Orono.

“We have to have a mindset that it’s not going to be a fun game,” Carvel said about the rematch on Saturday. “We got to keep it simple up and down the ice.”

“Buying into our game plan of moving the puck quick up ice [is key],” Ferraro added.

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