UMass scores late to beat Merrimack 4-3 on Monday night

Morrow and Farmer each tally multi-point games for the Minutemen

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Shilpa Sweth/ Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

Scott Morrow and Ty Farmer’s multi-point nights guided the Massachusetts hockey team to a 4-3 win over Merrimack on Monday night.

The fourth meeting between No. 10 UMass (10-4-2, 7-2-2 Hockey East) and the Warriors (7-10-1, 3-7-0 HEA) was announced just a few days prior to the midweek matchup after the Minutemen had their original series against Union postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. UMass hadn’t taken the ice in nearly four weeks prior and had returning players like Josh Lopina and Garrett Wait that needed game shifts, making it that much more important to play Monday’s game.

Of the four meetings between Merrimack and the Minutemen, all have been decided by one goal and a pair of contests required overtime. But UMass found a way to win every time, and Monday was no different.

The Minutemen battled through mental mistakes on the defensive end including an uncharacteristic goal let in by Matt Murray on a tame puck that trickled right past the veteran goaltender. But after back-and-forth action, UMass grabbed all of the game’s momentum in the third period, peppering Warriors net-minder Zachary Borgiel with an onslaught of shots before finding the tying and game winning goals in that frame.

“I thought we played pretty well tonight considering we haven’t played in a long time,” head coach Greg Carvel said Monday. “I thought in the second period we started to take the game over and then we took two penalties that really got them back on their feet, and I give our kids a lot of credit, they came out in the third period and played really well.”

“This is the first time I’ve coached a team that’s come from behind so many times to win games, and that’s a good sign.”

For over 50 minutes it seemed as though bounces and loose pucks weren’t going in favor of UMass but with five minutes of regulation time it was Merrimack who suffered a crushing blow. Ryan Lautenbach entered the offensive zone and sent a puck towards the net that was deflected perfectly past Borgiel for the go-ahead goal. The only problem: it wasn’t a Minutemen player that tipped it, it was Borgiel’s own defender who helped send UMass home with a win.

Scott Morrow returned early from the World Junior tournament cancelled by the IIHF and slotted back into the lineup for the Minutemen without missing a game. He didn’t miss a step either, establishing a strong offensive presence just as he has all season. Morrow finished with three points, including a low angle goal that the freshman slipped past Zachary Borgiel to net the first goal of the night for UMass.

Morrow added another goal from a 3-on-1 rush that he lasered into the back of the net from the top of the circle and added an assist to Lautenbach’s game-winner late in the third period.

Ty Farmer slid back into his natural position as a defenseman on Monday but played with the confidence of a forward in the offensive zone. He showed strong edge-work in the first period, and in the second frame positioned himself behind the Merrimack goal and fired a pass to the tape of Reed Lebster, leading to an easy goal on an open net. That was one of Farmer’s three assists of the game.

“He’s been way better, he’s skating with the puck, he’s being more patient with the puck and he’s given us a nice bump,” Carvel said of the senior defenseman’s offensive surge.

UMass’ lineup was still not at full strength on Monday; Anthony Del Gaizo, Eric Faith, Matt Baker, Cam Donaldson and Aaron Bohlinger were all left off the line chart. But the Minutemen aren’t strangers to playing with missing pieces, and they extended their point streak anyways, continuing to find ways to win throughout the chaos and shifting forward lines. Carvel still stressed the importance of cleaning up mistakes, namely taking too many penalties and not winning enough face offs, but there are plenty of things that encouraged him as well.

“I’m really looking forward to someday coaching a full team,” Carvel said. “I don’t think we have since the opening weekend, of course we haven’t lost [in regulation] since then so maybe this is the way to do it.”

The Minutemen have a short week ahead of them before traveling to Ann Arbor for a weekend series against Michigan on Saturday and Sunday.

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