Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Matt Murray earns first shutout of the season against UConn

UMass won 3-0 Thursday night

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Matt Murray earns first shutout of the season against UConn

(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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It took five games for Matt Murray to record his first collegiate shutout as a freshman goalie in 2018-19. Over the course of the season, he contributed three more for the Massachusetts hockey team.

A year later, 22 games passed before the sophomore netminder blanked his first opponent.

Thursday night at the Mullins Center, Murray made 21 saves in No. 2 UMass’ (24-6-0, 16-4-0 Hockey East Association) 3-0 win over Connecticut, tying a program record with his fifth career shutout.

“I thought Murray–even though he probably wasn’t tested too much—I thought he was real good on the saves that he had to make,” coach Greg Carvel said. “We challenged him to elevate, to get back to where he was earlier in the year, and I thought he was tonight.”

The 21 saves were the least amount of shots the St. Albert, Alberta native faced out of all five of his shutouts, with his 24-save performance against Merrimack last year the next lowest total.

“It’s finally a great feeling,” Murray said. “It’s nice to get that monkey of my back this year. All the guys in front made it a lot easier of a game and it was a great team win.

“From the first period we just came out and were dominate and kept that going throughout the game.”

Murray was in the midst of a minor rough patch over the last few weeks, dropping three of his prior six games heading into the matchup with the Huskies, a stark contrast to his perfect 11-0-0 record in the first half of the season.

“I had a discussion with [Murray] this week about getting back to where he was,” Carvel said. “There’s things that me and him talk about all throughout the year and when I see those things kinda dipping I got to talk to him. Credit to him, when I told him the things I saw, he’s like ‘yeah you’re right, let’s address it,’ and he addressed them and he looked like a really strong goalie that we saw earlier in the game and didn’t lose a game in the first half of the season.”

The mandate handed down from Carvel himself is that his goaltenders are not allowed to surrender more than two goals a game. With four games now left in the regular season, the Minutemen want to tighten up as many areas of their game as they game.

Against UConn, Murray did that and then some.

“I think the main thing is making sure I was dialed in and just working toward the puck,” Murray said on his focus heading into Thursday. “Keeping all the bad things out, any distractions just eliminating them and play my game.

“Coach challenged me and I wanted to make sure I was able to respond.”

Earning the shutout doesn’t just help pad the stats, it also serves as a confidence boost in a critical point in the season.

“I would say it’s up there to where it’s been throughout most of the season,” Murray said regarding his confidence. “For the past few weeks there, it’s been a little bit of a different success story with the second half, a few losses here and there, but I think the main focus is to just treat every day as it’s own day and keep battling, whether it be practice or a game.”

With Filip Lindberg still sidelined with an illness, don’t be surprised if Murray is a go at Providence Saturday night.

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

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