UMass will travel to Vermont for weekend road series

Minutemen have four games remaining before Hockey East tournament

Dylan+Nguyen+%2F+Daily+Collegian+

Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

Coming off a split series against Connecticut, the Massachusetts hockey team is preparing to face off against Vermont in a two-game road series Friday and Saturday.

The last time No. 10 UMass (17-10-2, 12-6-2 Hockey East) played the Catamounts (6-12-2, 4-13-2 HEA), the Minutemen swept the series and outscored UVM 8-1 over the two games. But with the conference being so tight this season, head coach Greg Carvel is not looking down on the Catamounts.

“[UVM] is going to be a tough opponent,” Carvel said. “We’re going to have to scratch out a win, just like every other night.”

UMass showed long stretches of dominance in both games against UConn, generating more shots and scoring chances than the Huskies. Despite that, special teams struggled and allowed UConn to come away with a win on Saturday night to split the series. With UMass Lowell splitting its series over that same weekend, the Minutemen and River Hawks remain tied for first place in the HEA standings.

“I thought we played pretty well Saturday night, but still couldn’t find a way to win,” Carvel said. “I think for us to win the league, we have to win all four games and that’s our goal every night, to win.”

The starting lineup for UMass shined over the weekend, with each member contributing to the scoring. Ryan Ufko scored the first goal on Friday, with Bobby Trivigno and Garrett Wait each earning an assist. Trivigno would go on to score a goal of his own on Saturday and add another assist for a three-point weekend. Josh Lopina recorded a goal in both games over the weekend, with Wait and Matthew Kessel coming up with assists.

“I think we’ve been playing really well together,” Lopina said of the top line. “The chemistry is there. I think the biggest thing for us is just to work hard and you know, chances and goals are common.”

Trivigno leads the team in points for the season with 36, while fellow Walter Brown award nominee Scott Morrow sits behind him at 27. The offensive efforts are not lacking for the Minutemen, but they are struggling to show diverse efforts on the score sheet.

“We need depth scoring in this team badly,” Carvel said. “We have to be able to get someone to score more regularly that just [Wait], [Lopina] and [Trivigno].”

Lucas Mercuri and Ryan Lautenbach have been in the lineup consistently, skating on the third and fourth line for the Minutemen. Mercuri’s height and Lautenbach’s speed make for a dangerous combination, but the two freshmen have just eight goals collectively. Returning players like Lopina are taking the time to help some of the younger players along.

“It’s leading with your actions,” Lopina said. “Always encouraging, leading by example, hoping they follow. I think they are going to come along here soon.”

Philip Lagunov transferred to Vermont for a graduate year after winning a National Championship at UMass. In four years as a Minuteman, Lagunov never quite found his footing with the program, although he did leave UMass with a bang, scoring a highlight reel goal in the national championship game to cap off his career in the maroon and white sweater.

“[Lagunov] used to make some really high-end plays, and for whatever reasons those things didn’t happen and didn’t continue to progress as I thought they would,” Carvel said. “I know his four years weren’t the way he wanted them to go.”

UMass will travel to Burlington for a weekend series in Vermont. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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