UMass bends but doesn’t break, beats UMass Lowell 3-2 on Saturday

Del Gaizo registers second straight two-point night


Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts hockey team jumped out to an early lead and used its momentum to outlast Lowell on Saturday, skating away with a 3-2 victory at the Mullins Center.

No. 14 UMass (8-4-2, 6-2-2 Hockey East) didn’t have many scoring chances throughout the game, but the few it did have were quality, and the Minutemen executed them to perfection. In the second period Scott Morrow put on an offensive clinic in a single possession, deking multiple defenders on his way to the net, but his first shot was off the mark. The freshman didn’t give up on the play, collecting the puck again and weaving his way through more No. 15 River Hawk (8-3-3, 6-2-1 HEA) defenders, faking out Welsch and burying his second chance opportunity.

“He’s such a stud,” Anthony Del Gaizo said of Morrow’s goal. “It’s really cool to watch him grow every single day, everybody was just like ‘holy crap’ [when Morrow scored].”

Del Gaizo continued playing with confidence and finished Saturday with the best weekend of his college hockey career. Early in the third period he tracked the rebound of Colin Felix’s shot from the blue line and poked it past Welsch to extend UMass’ lead. He also helped open the scoring in the first period, executing a power play to perfection firing a pass from the left circle directly to the tape on Reed Lebster’s stick in front of the net. Lebster directed the puck between the legs of Henry Welsch for an easy goal.

After scoring a pair of goals on Friday, Del Gaizo earned four total points on the weekend, three goals and one assist. And on Saturday the senior reinvigorated the Minutemen’s faceoff group, winning 16-24 draws.

“He’s one of the guys that I really lean on right now and I can’t say that going into the year I thought that was going to be the case,” head coach Greg Carvel said of Del Gaizo. “I’ve never doubted his character, he’s one of the toughest kids I’ve coached … now he’s to a point where he’s playing way above where I thought he would, and he’s not going to come down.”

Matt Murray remained a consistent force in net for UMass, turning aside 30 of 32 shots against him. Even when the graduate student was caught out of position by a cross ice pass or rebound, he was able to get across to the far pipe and stuff River Hawks forwards to protect the Minutemen lead. With four minutes remaining in the third period, UML desperately sent a flurry of shots at Murray to try and knot the game back up at 3-3. The goaltender stood his ground and battled with desperation of his own to keep the puck from crossing the goal line.

“[Murray] is the man, having the tandem of Filip [Lindberg] and Murray for all those years was incredible, now it’s Murray’s net and he’s doing an awesome job,” Del Gaizo said. “Every night he’s giving us a chance to win … it gives the team so much confidence that we have a true No. 1 and one of the best goalies in the country in net every single night.”

Murray wasn’t alone in selling out to maintain UMass’s lead, Slava Demin continued to expand his role in the backend and prove himself alongside Felix as a go-to shutdown pairing for Carvel. His stick discipline to guide the puck out of harm’s way when the River Hawks were able to settle it down in their offensive zone. Demin and Felix each put their bodies on the line and ate shots before they found their way to Murray.

UML found goals from Ryan Brushett and Andre Lee, but their late push fell short. Murray and the Minutemen took the wind out of the River Hawks sails, and for the final 90 seconds the forwards maintained possession in the offensive zone for UMass, meaning UML couldn’t get an extra skater on the ice to attempt a last ditch effort to tie the game.

The Minutemen didn’t play a clean hockey game from start to finish but managed to fight through whatever adversity the River Hawks threw at them. Even when Carvel shortened the already thin bench late in the game, UMass kept its energy level high to close out the weekend on a high note.

“Happy with the way we played,” Carvel said. “We need a little more discipline in our game but to beat that team, I’m very happy.”

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