Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Fast starts fueled No. 4 UMass’ dominance of Union

Minutemen score early, roll past Dutchmen
(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

The first 10 minutes set the tone of a game.

When the Massachusetts hockey team gets off to a fast start, it bodes well for the outcome.

On Friday against Union, No. 4 UMass (3-1, 0-1 Hockey East) came firing out of the gates and led 15-5 in shots after the opening 20 minutes. They were held scoreless by the Dutchmen (0-6), but they laid the blueprint, and proceeded to dominate the first game of the series, winning 6-1.

Following the win, UMass coach Greg Carvel said how his team approached the rematch ton Saturday would be a ‘tell-tale’ sign for how mature it was in the early stages of the season.

“There’s no reason why we can’t have a dominant performance again,” he said after the blowout win. “But like everything in this game a lot of it basically comes down to mindset, so we’ll see.”

It took less than a minute to find out what the Minutemen were made of on Saturday night.

After Filip Lindberg (15 saves) was forced to turn away a Union attempt off the opening faceoff, UMass didn’t shy away and came flying right back down en route to the opposite end of the ice.

Colin Felix got things moving when he lofted the puck out of the Minuteman end and into the neutral zone, where Mitchell Chaffee won a battle and poked it further towards the Dutchmen zone. From there, Anthony Del Gaizo was off to the races, outskating Gabriel Seger to the bouncing puck on its way to Union netminder Darion Hanson. Using his 5-foot-10, 193-pound frame to secure position, Del Gaizo corralled the puck on his forehand and scored blocker side.

“The way we scored is what I was looking for,” Carvel said. “Easy puck decisions, win some battles and then Anthony did what he does best, separated the kid from the puck and used his speed to beat him up the ice. He’s not necessarily a speedster but he finds ways to be effective.”

“One of our biggest things is to come out strong,” Chaffee said. “To get that first goal is huge. It’s a big momentum shift, so our scoring that early in the game set the tone for the whole game.”

Del Gaizo took a hit in the season opener against RPI and missed the next game at Northeastern, before returning to the ice on Friday. With Jake Gaudet excluded due to some “message-sending” from Carvel, Del Gaizo joined Chaffee and Oliver Chau on the top line. His presence was tangible in the sweep. Alongside his goal and an assist in the weekend set, Chaffee and Chau combined for five points.

“I thought our line did some good things last night and then we started off the game really well tonight,” Del Gaizo said. “Scoring up and down the lineup, that’s what it takes to win games.”

With the tone set from Del Gaizo, the fast start continued for the Minutemen in the opening frame when Cal Kiefiuk notched another goal on a redirection from a Zac Jones point shot.

UMass scored three more in the second period, and rolled to a 5-0 win.

Aided by their consecutive energetic starts, the Minutemen were a much tougher team to play against than their first two games. They outscored Union 11-1; a confidence booster, for sure.

“We’ve played four games here in eight days, so we’ve played a lot of hockey,” Carvel said. “I feel like we’ve learned a lot. Going forward we’ll know exactly what our expectations [are].”

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

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