Matt Murray has career weekend in net against Michigan

Murray stops a career high 40 saves Sunday night

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Chris Tucci/ UMass Athletics

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

Matt Murray’s skill in the net helped the Massachusetts hockey team keep a series against Michigan that statistically should not have been close, within reach on Saturday and Sunday.

The No. 10 Minutemen (10-6-2, 7-2-2 Hockey East) defense struggled in the series to keep the puck out of the zone against the Wolverines (16-6-1, 7-5-0 Big Ten) stacked lineup, but the one constant they had behind them was Murray.

“He was equally as good tonight as he was last night,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “He made a lot of huge saves and Matt’s the kind of goalie that he makes big saves look like normal, like routine.”

In both series the defense has not been able to eliminate Brendan Brisson’s hard one-timer shot. Though Murray allowed Brisson’s one-timer past him three times in the series, Murray was able to stop that shot multiple times as well.

On Sunday alone Brisson had 11 shots against the UMass goaltender, most being hard one-timers that the graduate netminder had to stop 10 of. Later in the game on Sunday night, Murray allowed another one-timer, this time by Matty Beniers by him to make the score 2-0.

In the third period Murray came up with a big save that Beniers and Brisson were a part of. Brisson shot a heavy one-timer at Murray right as Beniers collided into the goaltender in the front of the net, but Murray still covered the puck to call the play dead. Brisson was so astonished by the play that he fist-bumped Murray after.

That was not the first time Murray left the Michigan lineup speechless in the series. On Saturday night, center John Beecher had two breakaway chances on Murray but came up short both times. Beecher skated to the bench each time with his head down in disbelief.

With the skill of Michigan and the hard shots it were taking against Murray, many of the goals were not the goaltender’s fault.

“Even the goals that were scored, [Michigan] had to beat him side-to-side. Anything on the strong side all weekend he stopped,” Carvel said.

A shot that was not hard shot but seemed to surprise everyone that watched it was when Murray stopped Kent Johnson from completing a Michigan goal. Murray read the play perfectly and swiftly moved to the right post to cover up his opposite side and make the save.

The Wolverine’s powerplay has a 27 percent success rate, with it being third in the country. Murray had to face the Wolverine’s powerplay six times throughout the game. Each time Michigan had an extra man advantage Murray kept his composure and did not allow a goal in.

Murray allowed two of the four goals past him in the second period of the game. In that second period the Minutemen were continually turning the puck over and giving Michigan scoring chances, and Murray faced 16 shots in that frame alone.

The goaltender had a career high of 40 saves on the night and faced a total of 85 shots throughout the series, saving 79 of them.

“If anybody watched the series, I think they would have to give him the first star,” Carvel said. “He was really good. He was in the zone. He looked very comfortable in the net, moving really well, seeing the puck, didn’t give up rebounds. He was outstanding.”

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