UMass’ depth scoring shines early in the season

Bottom-six leads the way through four games

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Matt Skillings, Collegian Staff

Coming off a season where top end scoring was imperative for the Massachusetts hockey team, the No. 6 Minutemen’s (3-0-1) strong depth scoring has come as a welcome surprise early in the 2022-2023 campaign. Through its first four games of the season, UMass has had 12 different goal scorers on 16 goals. Each line has found its way onto the scoresheet, leading to the Minutemen’s early success.

UMass lost its top line of Bobby Trivigno, Josh Lopina, and Garrett Wait who combined for 35 goals and 101 points last year, head coach Greg Carvel was looking for a new source of scoring coming into this season.

“We’ve got good depth and scoring should come from all four lines,” Carvel said.

The Minutemen’s fourth line has been impressive on the offensive side of the lineup. The line features three freshmen, Kenny Connors, Tyson Dyck, and Cole O’Hara. Each have found the back of the net in the first four games, Dyck and O’Hara with one each and Connors with three which currently leads the team.

Connors has racked up five points through his first four games of the season, earning time with the top power play unit. With his two goals on the power play Friday night, Connors showed just how dangerous of a scorer he can be at the division one level.

“Kenny Connors in particular, he’s an outstanding player, he’s a great addition to the team,” Carvel said.

The third line of Ryan Lautenbach, Lucas Mercuri and Taylor Makar was also spectacular on Friday night, with Ryan Lautenbach tallying three points and Makar adding a goal himself. Lautenbach stood out early on with both his offensive prowess and his physicality. While he was held without a goal in the Denver series, his physicality was imperative in the UMass sweep. He kept Denver on edge with some heavy crowd-pleasing hits and forced them out of the dangerous goal scoring areas of the ice.

Makar’s first goal of the season was a tap-in off a rebound, which should be expected more often of the sophomore, who profiles as a power forward with his size and physicality. Makar replaced Ryan Sullivan on the third line and looked comfortable in the spot Friday night.

“It’s nice, finally working in practice, getting to gel with those guys,” Makar said.

Carvel has also been pleased with the second line of Matt Koopman, Eric Faith, and Jerry Harding. Though the line hasn’t been the most prolific goal scoring group so far, Carvel likes what they add to the forward group.

Scoring hasn’t just been coming from the offensive side of the lineup, defensemen have been active on the scoresheet. Though only two defensemen have scored so far, with goals from Scott Morrow and Linden Alger, defensemen have been a big part of the offense.

Morrow and Ryan Ufko both quarterback the power play, a power play that was successful against Union with three goals Friday night. Ufko is a creative playmaker who already has four assists and will be an offensive weapon throughout the season.

Following the victory Friday night, each line for UMass has at least two goals, and two of the three defensive pairings have at least one. UMass has the ability to score from anywhere in the lineup which is a daunting endeavor to face for opposing teams who will have a harder time figuring out matchups than they would for a team that only has one or two dangerous lines. This is a huge advantage for the Minutemen as they head into Hockey East play and face off against some of the most talented teams in the country.

Matt Skillings can be reached at [email protected]