Cale Makar’s elite skating stands out against Harvard

Sophomore defenseman denies Harvard forward a clear breakaway

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Cale Makar’s elite skating stands out against Harvard

(Photo by Jon Asgeirsson)

(Photo by Jon Asgeirsson)

(Photo by Jon Asgeirsson)

(Photo by Jon Asgeirsson)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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MANCHESTER—Nobody has ever questioned Cale Makar’s skating ability since he’s been a member of the Massachusetts hockey team.

The sophomore defenseman moves around the ice like a surfer navigates across a wave, gracefully and without effort.

In UMass’ 4-0 win over Harvard Friday afternoon in the Northeast Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament, Makar’s skating prowess likely changed the outcome of the contest.

In the second period with the game still scoreless, the Crimson’s (19-11-3) Jack Donato found himself heading in on Minuteman (29-9-0) goalie Filip Lindberg all alone.

The Harvard forward sprung loose from the UMass offensive zone after Makar’s point shot missed the net and had a fabulous chance to put the Crimson up 1-0. Realizing Donato was behind everyone, Makar got on his horse to try and make up for his mistake.

The Calgary, Alberta native used his powerful stride to quickly close the gap with Donato and just as the Crimson winger was ready to shoot, Makar pounced and stole the puck away from the unsuspecting Harvard sophomore.

Donato had a good 10-to-15 foot head start and Makar made it look they were stride for stride from the get-go.

“I mean I just put myself in a bad situation to start off with,” Makar said. “I missed the shot wide and then I knew I was going to have to get back. Fortunately, he came to his forehand and I was able to get the puck away right away.”

Not too long after, UMass scored to go up 1-0, which turned out to be the game-winner.

If Makar doesn’t prevent Donato’s golden bid, the Minutemen might’ve found themselves in a very different situation in the second period.

“I wouldn’t say turning point,” coach Greg Carvel said. “I knew he was going to catch him. We have our defense play aggressive in the offensive zone and he got a good chance, I’ll give him that. Harvard knew we played like that and were cheating a guy out of the zone but when that kid got the puck and I saw where Cale was I was like ‘he’ll catch him.

“It’s unbelievable how well he skates and for anybody who hasn’t watched Cale play this year, tonight was a real good example for how dominant he is and it’s because of how well he skates.”

The Colorado Avalanche draft pick added a sweet assist in the third period on Brett Boeing’s first goal, however his biggest contribution came defensively with the incredible backcheck.

“Right now it’s live or die,” Makar said. “All of us know that we don’t want this year to end and hopefully we keep continuing.”

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