Three third period goals cause UMass to lose 4-1 to Michigan

Matt Murray faced 41 shots and made 37 saves

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Chris Tucci/ UMass Athletics

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

Just one minute and 15 seconds into the first period, the Massachusetts hockey team was scored on by Michigan player Brendan Brisson on a one-timer. That goal was the start of a tough first period and game for the No. 10 Minutemen (10-5-2, 7-2-2 Hockey East).

Going into the series against the Wolverines, UMass head coach Greg Carvel knew what the No. 6 Michigan (15-6-1, 7-5-0 Big Ten) lineup was capable of but went into the series with the same mindset as any other game for the Minutemen.

Right as the first period started it was evident that the Minutemen were chasing after the Wolverines, not being able to make any plays. UMass resorted to icing the puck to get the Wolverines out of its offensive zone.

UMass did not get a puck to goaltender Erik Portillo until six minutes into the period on a Ryan Lautenbach shot that was easily turned aside.

The Minutemen throughout the game had solid shots on Portillo but could not capitalize on the opportunities. Defenseman Ty Farmer took a solid shot at the goaltender, but the puck deflected off his pads. Lucas Mercuri gathered the rebound and applied more pressure on the goaltender but came up short.

With five minutes into the first there was a momentum shift for UMass. After nearly generating a goal on a scramble in front of the net a minute earlier, Garrett Wait shot a puck from a low angle and had it deflect off Wolverine captain Nick Blankenburg to give the Minutemen a 1-1 tie.

Despite a dominating performance in favor of the Wolverines, The Minutemen were not backing down, preventing Michigan, taking away scoring chances with the help of goaltender Matt Murray and remaining physical for 60 minutes.

The physical side of the game ended up with Josh Lopina in the penalty box for tripping for only the second time of the season. Without one of their top penalty killing players, the Minutemen were struggling to get the puck out of their own zone.

As the buzzer rang signaling the end of the second period, the game was still tied 1-1 and was starting to become a battle of the goaltenders. Murray had faced 25 shots and Portillo faced 21, both only allowing in one goal.

Both teams were hungry to get a goal past the goaltenders and the Wolverines were the ones to get the best of Murray, capitalizing on odd-man rushes to do so. As Kent Johnson wound up his stick, Scott Morrow sprawled out across the ice to stop the puck, but Johnson was successful in getting it past Murray.

After Johnson’s goal nothing was going right for the Minutemen in the third period. The Minutemen were starting to look like the way they did in the first 10 minutes of the game, not being able to keep up with the Wolverines and making messy plays. Brisson took advantage of that and got his second goal of the game, making UMass fall behind 3-1.

“We made a lot of mistakes, allowed a lot of odd-man rushes,” Carvel said. “Our plan tonight was to try to limit their scoring chances and try to frustrate them, but I think we were the more frustrated team tonight.”

Later the Minutemen were put on the powerplay on a tripping call on Blankenburg with just over one minute left in the game. Carvel pulled Murray to allow the Minutemen to skate 6-on-4., but even with the two-man advantage John Beecher scored on the empty net to seal the Wolverines 4-1 win.

The score was not the story for Murray. The goaltender faced 41 shots and allowed only three of them in outside of the empty net tally. Without much defensive support, Murray still had a good night for what he was given.

“[Murray] was outstanding,” Carvel said. “He made a ton of big saves. A lot of pucks came his way and he looked like he was very much in control and comfortable in the net. That’s as many scoring chances as we’ve given up probably since I’ve been at UMass. It was a pretty lopsided game and [Murray] made it seem like a close game.”

The Minutemen will face off against the Wolverines again Sunday night. Puck drop will be at 4 p.m.

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