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

UMass nets three first-period power play goals in win over UVM

The success came on the heels of an 0-for-4 on the power play a night prior
Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

At the end of the first period Saturday night, the Massachusetts hockey team found itself 0-for-3 on power play opportunities and locked in a 0-0 tie with Vermont.

Sunday was a different story for the Minutemen (4-3-1, 4-3-1 Hockey East) as after 20 minutes of play, they led 3-0 courtesy of a perfect 3-for-3 mark on the man-advantage.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, UMass rode its power play units to a 4-1 win over the Catamounts (0-2-0, 0-2-0 HEA) for its first weekend sweep of the season.

UVM’s penalty kill pressure on Saturday led to an 0-for-4 night for the UMass power play—a disappointing performance for a unit that looked to have quelled its woes from a season ago.

“We pressured the puck well—which they were doing to us too,” Minuteman head coach Greg Carvel said following Saturday’s game. “I thought both penalty kills tonight did a pretty good job pressuring and limiting chances on the special teams.”

With knowledge of the Catamounts’ PK strategy in their back pocket, the Minutemen came out of the gate firing on the power play.

A penalty against UVM less than six minutes into the game saw UMass go up a man for the first time, a power play that ended in Carson Gicewicz tucking away a loose puck for a 1-0 lead.

“We made some slight adjustments,” Carvel said of his power play unit, “but the goals that we score—like Carson’s. We attacked on the entry and he just found a way to get to the net.”

A high sticking call with just over three minutes left in the first put the Minutemen on the 5-on-4 and a slash just moments later set them up with a long 5-on-3 power play. Josh Lopina wasted no time converting the team’s second power play goal of the night as the freshman converted off of a Marc Del Gaizo slap pass.

Though less than two minutes remained in the period, UMass made sure to take advantage on the remaining power play time. This time it was Zac Jones setting up Matt Kessel with a pass from behind the net to push the lead to 3-0 and keep the power play unit perfect.

“The other team has got an outstanding power play,” Catamount head coach Todd Woodcroft said. “Some of the goals that happened on the penalty kill were preventable for us. The things that we were very successful at last night, we didn’t have the exact same success in those areas on our penalty kill tonight.”

While the Minuteman power play went empty handed the rest of the night—failing to convert on a pair of Catamount penalties in the second period—the 3-for-5 night still improved UMass’ power play numbers. The Minutemen jumped from converting on 19.4 percent of man advantages coming into the game all the way to 25 percent by the time Sunday’s contest came to a close—a rate that should land them comfortably inside the top-15 nationwide by the time the dust settles on the weekend’s games.

“Its not like we drew any of [the power play goals] up.” Carvel said. “Its about effort, and having the right structure and guys understanding where other guys are on the ice.”

Not only is a potent power play something every coach would love to have, its even more welcome for Carvel who dealt with a bottom-six power play in all of college hockey just a season ago.

“I’ve been happy with the power play all year,” Carvel said, “compared to especially last year. It feels like every night we have two good units that find ways to create.”

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected]. He can be followed on Twitter @noah_bortle.

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