No. 5 Minnesota State sweeps No. 1 UMass on opening weekend

A last minute second period goal from the Mavericks caused the Minutemen to falter in the third period

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Kira Johnson / Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Correspondent

The Massachusetts hockey team came out strong against a resilient Minnesota State team, but a tough third period saw six unanswered goals and a breakdown to the Minutemen defense. No. 1 UMass’ (0-2) faltering backend gave the No. 5 Mavericks (2-0) a weekend sweep.

In the first period, UMass offense came out strong. Within the first five minutes of the game, senior Ty Farmer found Minutemen freshmen Scott Morrow, who slapped a shot across the ice to center Eric Faith. Faith did not have the puck on his stick for long before shooting it right past Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay.

To close the opening period, sophomore Josh Lopina connected on a pass from senior Bobby Trivigno to make it 2-0 UMass. 42 seconds into the second period, junior Cal Kiefiuk tapped in a pass from Lucas Mercui which was ultimately the last goal UMass was able to score past McKay on Sunday.

“We were winning battles, playing with energy,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “We had a good start and made it 3-0.”

Minnesota State was struggling to keep up with the Minutemen for most of the first and second period. In the first they were drawing penalties, keeping the Mavericks from producing offense.

“I think UMass was doing a lot of right,” Maverick’s head coach Mike Hastings said. “I thought they wanted to defend more than we wanted to play offense.”

The first and second periods was all UMass until goaltender Matt Murray allowed the puck past him with less than two minutes left in the second period. After the goal, Minnesota State came back onto the ice for the third period with a lot of energy on its side.

“I think momentum is a crazy thing,” Hastings said. “Once you get it you want to hold onto it, and once you get it you want to take it away. [UMass] had a lot of momentum through the first two periods and then Nathan Smith makes a big play, and we got a lot of energy off of that.”

There was no turning back for the Minutemen after the second period. The Mavericks scored a total of five goals against UMass in the third period with the shots being 16-3. Out of the Maverick’s five goals, center Nathan Smith was able to score two of them to go along with an assist.

Minnesota State’s last goal came from a hard shot from junior Brendan Furry. The breakdown of the young UMass defense was one of the main factors that cost the Minutemen the game.

“We have a lot of new players who just really made an inconsistency to our play against a really good team,” Carvel said.

Despite the inconsistency from the freshmen, there was still a lot of hope shown such as Mercuri wining 60 percent of his faceoffs.

Not only is the defense to blame, but the Minutemen’s top lines not showing up in the third period also contributed to the loss. The top line was not able to produce the same high-level offense in the closing period that was shown in the first and second period of the game.

“You need your Trivigno’s, Kessel’s, and Lopina’s to be really good,” Carvel said. “They are good players, but they weren’t the best players this week in the series.”

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @kaygregoire.