UMass sweeps Vermont with another strong four-goal win on Sunday

Gicewicz tallies two goals for the Minutemen, including the dagger late

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts hockey team completed a weekend sweep of Vermont (0-2-0, 0-2-0 Hockey East) with a 4-1 victory on Sunday.

With its win, No. 10 UMass (4-3-1, 4-3-1 HEA) has climbed back above .500 for the first time since its opening night victory. It also earned back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

“I thought Vermont played better than last night, I thought it was a pretty close game,” coach Greg Carvel said after the game. “They scored in the third and I give our guys credit that they buckled down and found a way to score a fourth goal to put the game out of reach.”

The Minutemen got off to a hot start in the first period, scoring three unanswered goals all on the power play. Cason Gicewicz, who was given a game misconduct on Saturday, made up for the time he missed, netted the first goal seven minutes into the game.

“That’s what we expected to get out of Carson,” Carvel said. “That he was going to score greasy goals like that, getting around the net.”

Later in the first period the Catamounts found themselves down 5-on-3, and UMass capitalized on both penalties. Josh Lopina buried the first of two goals in less than a minute for his fourth of the season, and Matthew Kessel added another tally on the subsequent 5-on-4.

Despite the lopsided score through 20 minutes, most of Vermont’s trouble came from being in the penalty box. In 5-on-5 the Catamounts played very tight and kept up with the Minutemen for most of the game, to the tune of a scoreless second period for both sides.

And under two minutes into the final frame, it was Vermont’s turn to score a power play goal, its first of the weekend.

But even with all the momentum, the Catamounts could not mount a late comeback, and Aaron Bohlinger found Gicewicz for the dagger with less than five minutes to play.

A stingy UMass defense made Murray’s job in net relatively easy over the weekend, but he finished the doubleheader with 32 saves and only allowed one goal.

“If he lets in two or less I’m happy with him, I don’t care how he does it,” Carvel said of his netminder. “He let in one goal on the weekend… But I think he can be better.”

Murray has now started four games in a row and sports a 3-1 record over that time. And with Carvel making it clear that he wants to ride one goalie this, solid performances in net while Filip Lindberg battles an injury will help Murray state his case for the full-time role.

As a whole, the Minutemen are starting to put the pieces together exactly the way Carvel wants them to: with every player on the ice making an impact on offense, defense and special teams to win games.

“We’re not going to be a team that scores easily,” Carvel said. “We need to defend well, we need to play a real blue-collar type of style, and we think if we do it well, we can be an effective team.”

Now, after having an extra week between games to prepare for Vermont, UMass will make a quick turnaround to play Connecticut (1-2-1, 1-2-1 HEA) on Wednesday afternoon.

That will be the third meeting between the Minutemen and Huskies this season. UMass picked up a decisive 5-0 victory in their first clash, followed by a 2-2 tie which UConn eventually won in a shootout.

The Huskies most recently defeated No. 2 Boston College 3-1, but have not played since Dec. 12. They will host UMass Lowell on Monday before heading to Amherst to take on the Minutemen. Puck is set to drop at 3:30 on Wednesday.

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @colinmccarth_DC.