Matt Murray’s presence in net guided UMass to a win Friday

Murray recorded 28 saves on the night against Merrimack

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Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

NORTH ANDOVER — The composure and confidence displayed in net by veteran Matt Murray allowed the Massachusetts hockey team to play to their fullest in Friday night’s matchup against Merrimack.

“Matt Murray covered up for a lot of mistakes tonight,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “He played outstanding.”

Early in the third period, the Warrior’s (3-4-0, 1-3-0 Hockey East) Logan Drevitch found the back of the net with a wraparound shot after Murray was caught too far outside the goal, allowing them to tie the game up. Murray remained in position throughout the entire period after, never taking his eyes off the puck and prepared to defend his net.

Following a UMass (3-2-0, 1-0-0 HEA) powerplay in the third, Merrimack looked to get its second goal of the night with numerous attempts in the front, but all were sent away. The pileup in front of the net left Murray without a stick for over a minute of action but the Minutemen unable to clear the puck and the score remained 1-1 due to Murray’s efforts.

Moments later, the Warriors sent the puck forward finding Mac Welsher who took a shot that ricocheted off the pads of Murray who was then able to clear it to the side finding a fellow teammate who took the game forward.

“Murray stood on his head and completely kept us in the game for a while there,” assistant captain Colin Felix said. “Obviously we want to protect out goalie, but then again you can’t do anything stupid after the whistle. You are just hurting yourself if you’re in the box the whole night. We do the best we can to keep guys away from him and he’s a tough kid, so he hangs in there.”

The second period saw a surge of offensive movement for Merrimack after UMass’ Bobby Trivigno, Anthony Del Gaizo, and Josh Lopina ended up the in the penalty box. Murray was able to save each shot attempt, clearing the puck or getting a hand on it, stopping play, with Merrimack taking 11 shots all on net in that period alone.

At the conclusion of the game, Murray recorded 28 saves, with the Warriors taking 51 shots throughout the night. It was because of his efforts that the game remained tied deep into the final frame before Felix scored a goal with less than five seconds remaining, awarding the Minutemen the win in their first Hockey East matchup of the season.

After originally entering the transfer portal, Murray returned to UMass in the offseason after Filip Lindberg headed to the pros, and it was an easy decision for Carvel about who would start in net. Murray holds multiple records on the team, including most shutouts with 11.

In his fifth year in a Minutemen jersey, Murray started off the season with two losses in the series against Minnesota State giving up eight goals. Since then he has turned the season around allowing just three goals in the last two games, both being wins against American International College.

“He’s unreal,” Cal Kiefiuk said. “We knew that with him coming back we were in a pretty good spot in net and tonight he showed that he’s one of the best goalies in the nation.”

Murray and the Minutemen will be back in action against Merrimack on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Mullins Center.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected]ass.edu and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.