UMass falls in season opener against Minnesota State, 2-0

An early goal proves costly for the Minutemen

Nina+Walat+%2F+Daily+Collegian

Nina Walat / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

A packed house awaited the Massachusetts hockey team as it faced off against Minnesota State in its season opener. A costly penalty allowed the No. 5 Mavericks (1-0) to take an early lead and left the No. 1 Minutemen (0-1) searching for an equalizer that never came.

Ten seconds into the game, Matthew Kessel was called for interference leaving UMass without a key member of the penalty kill unit. On the powerplay, Reggie Lutz took a shot from outside the circle that squeezed it’s way past the hands of Matt Murray and found its way to the back of the net.

“I spent most of the summer worrying that this would happen,” head coach Greg Carvel said of the lethargic start. “We’ve got a lot of new players on our team that just we need to catch up to speed. [We] Got what we deserved tonight.”

The offensive struggles for the Minutemen persisted throughout the game, with Minnesota outshooting them 38-32. The first period saw the slowest movement, with only one shot on goal for UMass. Rebounds and getting pressure in front of the net was also missing in the game.

Minnesota State sealed the result after Benton Maass found the stick of Julian Napravnik and put the Mavericks up 2-0 with less than five minutes to play. The Minutemen’s lasting hopes were destroyed when freshman Taylor Makar got called for interference in the final minutes of the third period.

“I don’t think we played well,” Bobby Trivigno said. “We didn’t play hard enough. Didn’t execute our game plan well enough at all. And again, like I said it’s learning. We’ll be better tomorrow”

Dryden McKay showed strength coming off an impressive junior year season, contributing a few big saves for the Mavericks, but UMass did not challenge him as much as they wanted to. On the other side, Matt Murray recorded 30 saves throughout the night and stepped up to help keep the score low.

“Matt Murray is a tremendous goaltender,” Colin Felix said. “He kept us in the game for a long time there.”

Felix and other defenders were unable to prevent the high pressure from the Mavericks offensive line. There are three new defensemen in the line-up for the Minutemen, and the inexperience showed. UMass struggled to clear the puck allowing Minnesota State to get many scoring chances.

Carvel told the Minutemen they needed to play with desperation Friday night, but that message was not apparent throughout the game. Inexperience showed and the returning players did not step up, with attention to detail and checking details being the largest problems.

The team’s play was not up to its usually standard, and after a winning season with no fans there to cheer, expectations were high coming into tonight’s game.

“The community is excited that we have a winner,” Carvel said. “It’s easy to climb, it’s hard to sustain. I knew that this was going to be a very challenging year and we’re, lot of reasons, we’re going to get everybody’s best.”

The student section displayed school pride, with consistent cheering throughout the game. During scoring opportunities and important defensive plays, the arena came to life and remained that way despite the loss.

“It was nice to get a little bit of recognition, but we didn’t play like champions tonight at all,” Trivigno said. “Celebrations done. New year. I’m over it, we’re over it. We need to play better tomorrow, that’s it.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.