Timeout sparks UMass hockey past Boston University

Minutemen score three times after the break in action

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Timeout sparks UMass hockey past Boston University

(Photo by Will Katcher)

(Photo by Will Katcher)

(Photo by Will Katcher)

(Photo by Will Katcher)

By Mollie Walker, Assistant Sports Editor

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The most crucial call of the Massachusetts hockey team’s 4-2 victory over Boston University Friday night at the Mullins Center, was a timeout in the second period.

A little over six minutes into the middle frame, UMass (21-5-0, 13-3-0 Hockey East Association) coach Greg Carvel had seen enough as his team trailed 1-0 against the Terriers (10-13-3, 8-7-2 HEA) on home ice in front of a sold-out crowd of over 8,300.

“The message at that point was ‘let’s put the pedal down here, play faster up and down the ice,’” Carvel said of what he told his team on the bench. “Because when we try to play fast and play hard and try to combine when we’re doing both of those, we’re a good hockey team. And I thought we could play faster.”

And faster they went.

Noticeably soon after emerging from the bench, the Minutemen rushed up ice as John Leonard carried the puck from the right side of the blueline into the center of the zone through several Terrier defenders. The Amherst native sent a hard wrister that beat BU goaltender Jake Oettinger glove-side to knot the game at one.

“Just that we’ve got to start going,” Cale Makar recalled of the second period timeout. “I think the first period we were just feeling things out a little bit and even maybe a little bit at the start of the second. I think that first goal really got us going, but definitely some messages were sent and I think we sent them.”

Carvel has mentioned how he likes the way the Minutemen respond to the challenge of resetting after a loss or, in this case, a first-period deficit. He considers UMass to be a very “coachable group” that takes direction well, which was as clear as day to those that saw how the Minutemen came out of that second period timeout – a different team.

Less than two minutes later, Makar went coast-to-coast with the puck down the left side of the ice before dishing it off to Jack Suter crashing in front of the net for the go-ahead goal. The momentum had quickly shifted in UMass’ favor.

“We focus a lot on just being able to breathe in reset training here and I think that’s just a big quality for us,” Makar said of the team’s ability to reset, “Being able to just kind of sit back and take a couple breathes rather than getting too far into the moment ourselves. And letting our emotions take us out too early.”

At the 15:07 mark of the second, UMass had an effective transition up ice that ended in a cross-zone pass to the stick of Jake McLaughlin, who buried it past Oettinger to take the 3-1 lead. It was also McLaughlin’s first goal of the season.

“I was asked in an interview last week, ‘at this point in the year what are you hoping to see from your team?’” Carvel said. “And my response was ‘my hope, every day when I walk in and meet with them is that they look eager to improve and they’re eager to take direction on how we can get better.’ And that’s always the case with these guy.

“But for the most part, these guys are bought in. They trust in me, I trust in them and usually our gameplan is executed pretty well,” he added.

Suter’s goal counted as his first of the season, and it came after a week that Carvel apparently challenged the junior. Carvel said he was hoping to see more out of Suter coming into Friday’s matchup and he thought “he played one of his better games, and not just because he scored.”

The 6-foot forward is just the most recent example of UMass players able to produce for a coaching staff that brings the best out of them. Now Suter has registered points in two of the last three contests.

The Minutemen’s ability to shift gears after a loss or an in-game deficit has been the difference maker in a handful of games this season. And it helped UMass complete the first sweep over the Terriers in program history and tie the program’s all-time win record (21).

Mollie Walker can be reached at m[email protected] and followed on Twitter @MWalker2019.