Luke Pavicich is earning the starting role in net for UMass

‘He’s our guy,’ Carvel says of Pavicich

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Colin McCarthy/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Colin McCarthy, Video Editor

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — The goaltending questions for the Massachusetts hockey team were answered during its weekend slate of Friendship Four games. Luke Pavicich started in net against Quinnipiac on Saturday night after starting the previous day’s contest against UMass Lowell.

There was no alternating of goaltenders; Cole Brady stayed on the bench and Pavicich consistently showed why he was the one between the pipes. The sophomore recorded 31 saves against the No. 4 Bobcats (10-1-3, 6-0-0 Eastern College Athletic Conference), bringing his total save number up to 63 on the weekend, with only three goals allowed. No. 17 UMass (7-5-2, 3-5-0 Hockey East) coach Greg Carvel gave a vote of confidence to Pavicich after his performance.

“He’s our guy, it’s pretty clear with the way he’s played,” Carvel said. “I thought he played outstanding this weekend and we need that.”

Pavicich made key saves every time the Minutemen needed him to over the weekend. His poise in goal was evident even when players were crashing in around him. He kept a few shots out of the net while fighting off Quinnipiac players chopping at him, and on an ice sheet with unforgiving and unpredictable rebounds, Pavicich managed to gather nearly every one of them.

Poise matters a lot for goaltenders, but sometimes desperation outweighs it, and Pavicich showed that too when he made his best save of the weekend. The game was tied and the Bobcats were on the power play searching for a go-ahead score late in the third period. Pavicich dropped into the butterfly to make an initial stop on Quinnipiac’s shot from the top of the right circle. The rebound dropped down to the left of the crease where there was a wide opening to shoot from. The Bobcats thought they had an easy goal, but Pavicich came out of nowhere, stretching across the crease with his left pad and getting just enough on the puck to keep it out of his goal.

The save was so improbable that Carvel needed to confirm Pavicich actually stopped it, and that the puck didn’t just miss the net.

“That was one of the best saves I’ve ever seen,” Carvel said.

Pavicich knew he needed a weekend like this, and that the Minutemen needed it as well, after the inconsistent play between the pipes over the previous five games.

The rocky stretch of games plagued both Pavicich and Brady, and there was a two-weekend period where neither could last a full 60 minutes in net. UMass’ defense was shorthanded at that time, with Aaron Bohlinger, Linden Alger and Noah Ellis all dealing with different levels of injuries, but Carvel still made it clear he wanted more out of his goaltenders. He was looking for someone to step up and win the full time job, rather than alternating back-and-forth between the tandem for the rest of the regular season.

After the weekend Pavicich had, that decision will be easy for Carvel. Outside of two questionable decisions behind the net, the net minder played a nearly perfect weekend, and did exactly what Carvel asked him to. As he gets more games under his belt, he can become even more comfortable leading the Minutemen. The Friendship Four was a big step in the right direction for Pavicich.

“I hope his confidence is growing because my confidence is growing in him,” Carvel said.

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