UMass goaltending struggles in weekend series against BU

Terriers score 12 goals over two game series

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Kayla Wong/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Colin McCarthy, Video Editor

Massachusetts hockey coach Greg Carvel holds his goaltenders to a simple but high standard: don’t allow more than two goals. That standard was not met against Boston University.

No. 11 UMass (5-5-1, 1-5-0 Hockey East) allowed 12 goals over the two game series against the No. 14 Terriers (6-3, 4-2 HEA), and never stood a chance to win either game because of that large deficit. Against a BU team led by netminder Drew Commesso, who has been reliable for three years, the Minutemen’s goalie tandem stuck out even more.

“We need some stabilization in net,” Carvel said on Friday night. “I think our first five games we were getting really strong goaltending but the last two weekends it’s fallen off.”

Cole Brady earned the start in net on Saturday after he looked sound coming in to replace Luke Pavicich on Friday night. In the 26 minutes he played, Brady made 20 saves and the only goal he allowed was a 5-on-3 tally by BU. On Saturday, though, he allowed five goals and made 32 saves.

On both nights, the goaltender who started the game for UMass finished the game watching from the bench. Pavicich allowed five goals before being pulled in favor of Brady on night one, and Henry Graham came in to relieve Brady on night two. Graham is listed as the third string goaltender in the lineup, but with both Pavicich and Brady struggling, Carvel needed a different look on the ice, and Graham gave the team a lift for the final 10 minutes.

“He’s a great teammate, he’s a battler and I want to try and get him time … and he made some nice saves,” Carvel said of Graham. “We need to find a goaltender that can keep the other team to less than three goals.”

Saturday marks the third time in four games that the Minutemen had to bench their starting goaltender. That’s a drastic shift from the first five games of the season, where UMass looked like it had two viable starting netminders.  Pavicich played well against Denver, and Brady didn’t allow a goal in his first 119 minutes in net over two starts.

At that time, Carvel was very happy with his goaltending situation, but the last two weekends have changed that outlook. Twice in the last four games, the Minutemen have allowed seven goals. And of those four games, UMass has allowed at least four goals in every single one. That’s far off from the lucky number two that Carvel looks for.

The Minutemen aren’t used to this problem. Over the last five seasons, goaltenders have been the most stable position in UMass’ lineup. Whether it was Filip Lindberg or Matt Murray, Carvel knew he was getting strong goaltending every night, and the off nights were few and far between. The only question mark in net was based on having two more-than capable starters

The last two weekends, and particularly the series against BU, has been the opposite situation. Neither Pavicich nor Brady has looked like a true starter.

That could be in part because of the fact that the entire UMass team is in a funk, and also because the defense hasn’t been strong and is dealing with injuries currently. In any case, both Pavicich and Brady were overwhelmed by the Terriers on Friday and Saturday night.

The goaltending tandem will look to regroup in practice ahead of its next game against New Hampshire. The Minutemen are only playing a single game against the Wildcats as opposed to a series, so there won’t be a chance to split the goalies across two games. The week of practice will decide who earns the start, and right now it could be Pavicich, Brady or Graham.

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