No. 10 UMass beats No. 16 UML 2-1 to complete the sweep

UMass has only allowed two goals in the last four games

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Noah Bortle, Sports Editor

If once is chance, twice is coincidence and three times is a pattern, then what is four times?

That’s the question Massachusetts hockey fans may be looking to answer after Filip Lindberg made his fourth-straight start and turned in his fourth-straight gem in UMass’ (11-5-3, 11-5-3 Hockey East) 2-1 win over UMass Lowell (3-3-0, 3-3-0 HEA) on Saturday.

“I expected a low-scoring affair today, a hard-fought game,” Minutemen head coach Greg Carvel said. “It turned out to be that way.”

A night after recording a shutout, Lindberg was once again on top of his game, this time letting in just one of the 29 shots he faced past him.

While the Minutemen’s defense held solid again, the difference between Friday’s 5-0 blowout and Saturday’s contest was UMass’ offensive output.

While the maroon and white weren’t stymied in the offensive zone by any means—their 31 shots on goal tell that tale—by only scoring twice, the game was never completely out of reach.

With no goals scored by either squad in the first period, it became evident that finding a breakthrough could prove hugely important. And the Minutemen wasted no time in the second frame making sure they would be the side finding that breakthrough.

Less than a minute into the second period Zac Jones wristed a shot from the blue line into traffic. Garrett Wait got his stick on the puck to deflect it under the glove of UML goaltender Henry Welsch and in.

“The strength was going to be goaltending and our defense,” Carvel said of his team’s identity coming into the year, “so we needed to be a good defensive team. And when you play good defense, offense always follows.”

UMass wasn’t done in the second period either. This time, the scoring came thanks to fourth line center George Mika. On a two-on-one, Mika passed the puck to his linemate Anthony Del Gaizo who ripped a shot on net. Then, when Welsch couldn’t corral the rebound, Mika won the battle to the loose puck and doubled the Minuteman lead.

Mika’s tally would prove crucial for UMass in the third period. After a faceoff win for the River Hawks, Lindberg saw a flurry of shots coming his way. After turning aside the first few, Lindberg helplessly watched as a Lucas Condotta shot deflected off of Minuteman defender Matthew Kessel and in to cut the lead to 2-1.

That was as close as the River Hawks would come, however, as the UMass defense and Lindberg stood tall in the face of a late UML blitz, including a final minute with the goaltender pulled that saw the Minutemen forced to ice the puck multiple times to ease the defensive zone pressure.

“We just found a way to score one more goal than Lowell did,” Carvel said, “and that’s a big sweep for us. I’m really proud of this team.

“We only scored two goals, but we only gave up one goal on the weekend, and that’s fine by me. It doesn’t matter how many we score as long as we’re playing well defensively.”

With Saturday’s win, UMass not only completed the weekend sweep of the River Hawks but also earned its first win at the Tsongas Center under Carvel.

“It releases a bit of a monkey on our back,” Carvel said. “And not just mine, it was our whole program. The senior class has done a lot of things: played in a National Championship game and won a regular season championship, but we hadn’t won in here and now we have.”

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