UMass displays depth down the lineup in Friday’s matchup against Northeastern

Oliver McDonald records his first goal of the season

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Shilpa Sweth/ Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

In Friday’s game against Northeastern, the Massachusetts hockey team displayed strength on offense from all lines. Every game in Hockey East has proved to be challenging, but UMass (11-6-2, 8-2-2 Hockey East) remains a strong competitor with their identity and strength starting to show consistency.

In the second period Oliver MacDonald opened the scoring when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, charged towards the net and took a shot that got past the hands of Northeastern’s (16-6-1, 8-4-1 HEA) Devon Levi, rattled off the post and into the net. This marked his first goal of the season, with Ryan Lautenbach earning an assist for his outlet pass. Remaining quiet this season, MacDonald has the skill to make large contributions and generate scoring opportunities, and the sophomore demonstrated a build in his confidence during the game.

“I sat down with him last week and he told me, ‘coach I feel more confident than I have been since I left Juniors and I can feel it coming’,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “God bless him. He was right. It was a really really nice goal.”

MacDonald has been on the scoresheet once this year on Oct. 30 against Merrimack for an assist but missed a few games after that due to an injury. During his freshman year, he was not a permanent member of the lineup but scored a pair of goals that season.

Matt Baker was listed as the extra skater tonight, easing back into the lineup after dealing with a broken foot. The graduate transfer geot multiple shifts on the ice, cycling in for a few players in the bottom-six forward group, and was on the ice for the goal by MacDonald, replacing Lucas Mercuri in the fourth line.

“He’s a smart player, just needs to play a little harder, a little tougher,” Carvel said. “I tried to give him shifts because I think he can add to what we’re doing.”

The first line, second line, and fourth line all scored against the Huskies, showing depth in the lineup with many players returning from injury and the full team starting to get healthy.

“It’s starting to come together,” Carvel said. “First, second and fourth line all scored tonight and I liked the third line too, so if we’re healthy we’ve got a good depth if they’re all playing well.”

Josh Lopina put the Minutemen up by two scores just over seven minutes into the second period with Garrett Wait and Bobby Trivigno each getting an assist. Minutes later, Cal Kiefiuk sent the pass from behind the net and into the middle, finding the stick of Anthony Del Gaizo and giving UMass the lead heading into the final frame.

Del Gaizo out of practice early in the week due to a non-COVID-19 related sickness but dressed for the game, played big minutes on the second line and scored a slick goal, which he has done a few times throughout the season. Northeastern scored a goal in the second frame to take some momentum out of the Minutemen, but Del Gaizo’s goal brought that momentum right back and it carried UMass to a win.

Despite no goals scored by the third line, that trio still contributed positively on the ice. Eric Faith recorded 10 faceoff wins, with just 2 losses. But Cam Donaldson, Faith, and Ryan Sullivan ended the night with little to show for those efforts, producing only five shots of the 34 total by the Minutemen.

Carvel still sees room for improvement and areas for the depth, but now that almost everybody is back in the UMass lineup, the identity and style of play that is expected of it is starting to show.

UMass will travel and face-off against Northeastern for the final game in the weekend series at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.