Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass loses 2-1 in overtime to Merrimack

Minutemen drop first game of season
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2022)

NORTH ANDOVER — The Massachusetts hockey team suffered its first defeat of the season at the hands of Merrimack Saturday night, falling 2-1 in overtime.

The game featured what was expected of a Merrimack-UMass matchup; a physical, low scoring battle. No. 5 UMass (5-1-1, 1-1 Hockey East) ended its five-game win streak against Merrimack (4-3-0, 2-1 HEA) going back to last season, and also ended its five-game win streak from this season, that began against Denver.

As the clock wound below one minute, UMass seemed to be on its way to victory against Merrimack for the second night in a row. Despite an overwhelming push from the Warriors for almost the entirety of the third period, the Minutemen and Cole Brady kept the Warriors off the board for over 59 minutes.

A Merrimack face off win with 36 seconds left however, would prove to be key for the Warriors, as the puck skittered to the stick of Senior Mac Welsher who rifled the puck through a sea of bodies and under Brady’s blocker, tying the game at one.

So, for the second night in a row, it was onto overtime. And, for the second night in a row, UMass dominated the puck possession game in overtime, not allowing Merrimack to possess the puck for well over two minutes. But eventually, Merrimack captain Ben Brar found himself with the puck on the left face off circle. Brar cut across seam with the puck and beat Brady wide for the game winning goal.

Despite dropping its first game of the season, head coach Greg Carvel was pleased with how his team played for the majority of the game.

“I thought our guys played a really good hockey game for 55 minutes,” Carvel said. “Much better effort up and down the lineup than last night. I thought we actually played well enough to win a game here, but the puck bounced the other way tonight.”

Brady got his second start of the season and was once again solid in net for the Minutemen. Brady made 32 total saves on 34 shots and sustained the shut out until the final seconds of the game.

“Cole Brady was outstanding for all the game as far as I’m concerned,” Carvel said. “We’ve got two goalies it looks like we can trust, so that’s a good problem to have”

Reed Lebster provided all of the offense on the night for the Minutemen, scoring a breakaway goal on Merrimack goaltender Hugo Ollas after blocking a shot in the defensive zone. Lebster now has three goals and four assists for seven points on the season.

“[Lebster] finding a way to get points every night, scored the goal and then he almost set up Cameron on another goal, so he’s a good offensive player,” Carvel said.

Also looking strong tonight was the third line; or as Carvel likes to call it, “the sophomore line.” Consisting of Ryan Lautenbach, Lucas Mercuri and Taylor Makar, the line has been the Minutemen’s most consistent source of offense this season, despite not scoring tonight.

Senior Cal Kiefiuk was dressed tonight as the extra skater but did not see any ice time. As the typical top line right wing manages a lingering injury, Carvel feels that his leadership is essential to the team even when he can’t be on the ice.

“It hurts not having Cal Kiefiuk,” Carvel said. “He’s a big part of our team, and when he’s not in the lineup, I think we’re a different team, that line especially is a different line. So, he’s been a big loss for us the last number of games, so hopefully we’ll get him back. We’re a better team when he’s literally in the jersey. He brings a lot of energy, and he holds guys accountable”

UMass will look to get back on track when its take on a formidable opponent in Providence College on Nov.4. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Matt Skillings can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @matt_skillings.

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