Inexperience did not stop freshmen from helping UMass in championship win

Ryan Ufko ends the night with seven shots on goal

Dylan+Nguyen%2F+Daily+Collegian

Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

BOSTON — The freshmen of the Massachusetts hockey team never stepped on the TD Garden ice to play in a high stakes game until Friday. On Saturday night, they did not allow the inexperience to stop them from helping their team out in a critical game.

“There was an awkward part of the year that people talked about championships. We’ve got 10 kids here who weren’t part of that, any of that,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “It kind of felt awkward and strange that there were these kids that weren’t apart of it and now they are.”

A player that has grown a lot since the beginning of the season is Scott Morrow. The defenseman has become more versatile in his style of play and is not allowing offense to be his only upside. Throughout the season, Morrow has pinched high up and done too much with the puck, but on Saturday night he grew with the puck. As he threw the puck in the offensive zone, instead of chasing after it, Morrow skated back and stayed in his position, a move that he typically would not have done.

Morrow also broke up what could have been a critical goal for UConn in the third period. Two Huskies (20-15-0, 14-10-0 Hockey East) players were in front of goaltender Matt Murray with the puck on one of their sticks. When a Husky was about to put a shot on net, Morrow tapped the puck away to take away the chance.

On top of making good plays, Morrow was creating offense as well. After UConn’s big first goal to give them a 1-0 lead, the Minutemen (22-12-2, 15-8-2 HEA) needed a play to keep the momentum alive for them. Morrow attempted a hard shot on net after the goal, giving UMass some momentum back in its favor.

Ryan Ufko also was generating shots on goal for the Minutemen. On UMass’ first power play of the game, he was continuously throwing shots on net, pressuring Huskie goaltender Darion Hanson. The freshman finished with 13 shots, with seven of the shots being on goal.

Ryan Lautenbach made his presence known on the ice throughout the game as well. Lautenbach used his speed to get to the puck, beating out many UConn players in his way. He also was throwing his body in front of the net waiting to clean up any of his teammate’s shots.

With the performance of Lautenbach, veteran players including Bobby Trivigno trusted him with the puck. Trivigno was skating through the neutral zone, but with all the Huskies on him he opted to pass the puck to Lautenbach who had a solid shot on net but came up empty.

“Our freshmen class did an outstanding job. Morrow and Ufko played really big roles for us this year. The freshmen forwards will keep coming along,” Carvel said.

The freshmen did show some inexperience throughout the game, though, and it cost the Minutemen.

At points in the game Morrow was overhandling the puck, which in return Huskies players took advantage of and took the puck away from him. He lost the puck at times and could not recover quick enough to grab it back.

As Lautenbach went for a change, he tried to get rid of a puck when he was by the bench but gave it right to a Huskies player. Lautenbach did not notice and went off the ice from his shift, allowing UConn to enter the offensive zone with an advantage.

Despite the mistakes, the freshmen and the Minutemen came up on top and won the Hockey East championship.

“I think our younger guys did a really good job. Couldn’t really ask for anything more, we won,” Trivigno said.

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