UMass mounts third period comeback, beats Merrimack 3-2 in overtime

Matt Murray picks up win in game No. 100 for Minutemen

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Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts hockey team continued what it started in its last series against Merrimack on Wednesday night with a physical game throughout each period. Eventually the physicality paid off as the No. 12 Minutemen erased a third period deficit and won 3-2 in overtime.

Cal Kiefiuk was slotted back into the lineup after battling a wrist injury that put him out for five games. With a forward back on the bench, Ty Farmer moved back to defense with Scott Morrow to move Aaron Bohlinger down as an extra skater. Cam Donaldson moved to the third line to make room for Kiefiuk on the second unit.

“[Kiefiuk’s] been out a long time. He gave us minutes, but I don’t think he was overly productive for us,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said.

Bohlinger skated with Morrow in past games to take Farmer’s place when the senior shifted to offense to make up for the loss of all the missing forwards. Though Bohlinger was moved to extra skater, he still saw a few minutes on the ice. He skated with Morrow and Farmer at different points, and continued to pair with Matthew Kessel on the power play.

The defensive pairing that did not change in the game was Slava Demin and Colin Felix. The pairing brings a defensive upside, especially in a game like Merrimack where physicality has a large emphasis throughout the game. Demin finished with three blocked shots on the night, the most for the Minutemen on Wednesday night. Despite that, they still were on the ice for both of the Warrior’s goals, leaving Carvel unhappy with their performance as a whole.

The first period was all Minutemen, but the Warriors were still getting shots on goal despite the strong defense shown against them. Merrimack center Liam Walsh had a chance to shoot a shorthanded goal into the net on an Alex Jefferies hooking call, but goaltender Matt Murray blocked it last minute.

Not too long after Jefferies’ penalty, Liam Walsh was sent to the box to give the Minutemen a 2-man advantage. With the 5-on-3, the Minutemen stayed in the attacking zone. Morrow created space and took a shot that hit the post, moving goaltender Zachary Borgiel out of his net, but the Minutemen could not get the puck through before he collected himself.

On a delayed penalty with seven minutes left in the period, Steven Jandric sent the puck past Murray to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

As Jandric shot the puck into the net, Demin was called for holding. This created a frustrated UMass team, as represented by Kessel pushing a Warrior before heading off for a line change.

Heading into the second period, the pace of the game did not change. The contest was still physical, causing both teams to draw multiple penalties in the frame.

On one power play, Donaldson found Bohlinger, who looked to his right and fired a pass to Kessel at the blue line. Kessel shot a one-timer through traffic and past Borgiel to tie the game 1-1.

A player that could be seen all over the ice was Ryan Lautenbach. Lautenbach used his speed to his advantage and beating Warrior players to the puck, adding two shots. The other freshman on his line, Lucas Mercuri finished off with 15 faceoff wins out of his 24.

Mercuri not only showed up on the faceoffs, but also on the score sheet. After drawing a call to put the Minutemen on the powerplay, Mercuri tipped the puck into the net to tie the game up 2-2, sending the Minutemen into overtime.

“Anytime you tie the game it’s a change of momentum,” Trivigno said. “That wasn’t a pretty goal, we just grinded the puck low.”

Going into overtime, Reed Lebster had a scoring chance on a breakaway, coming up short, but this sent the tone for the Minutemen in the extra minutes of the game.

With only a few seconds left in overtime and the Minutemen on the brink of going into a shootout, Scott Morrow made a patient play to send the puck to Bobby Trivigno’s stick in front of the net, where the captain redirected it through Borgiel to give the Minutemen the win.

Not only was this a big win for the Minutemen, but the game was also game No. 100 for Matt Murray as a starting goaltender.

“He’s the guy now,” Trivigno said. “It’s his net and he’s playing unbelievable.”

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