UMass struggles out of the gate in 7-4 road loss to Providence

Freshmen lead Minutemen’s offense

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

PROVIDENCE, R.I — The Massachusetts hockey team’s slow start plagued it on Friday night, and Providence took advantage. The No. 14 Friars (5-2-1, 3-0-1 Hockey East) rattled off four straight goals before defeating No. 5 UMass (5-2-1, 1-2-0 HEA) 7-4 in Providence.

The Minutemen fought back in the last 30 minutes of the game, but it was too little, too late.

“The problem was we didn’t have all 20 guys [battling back],” head coach Greg Carvel said. “We had certain guys turning the puck over, certain guys that didn’t compete well enough. We needed more saves, but I guess it’s a good sign that we kept it close.”

The Minutemen went on the power play early on in the first period, but an uncharacteristic mistake by Ryan Ufko led Friars forward Chase Yoder to a breakaway on Cole Brady, which he buried to open the scoring for Providence. Brady let in two more goals in the first frame before being replaced by Luke Pavicich. Brady ended his night with a .750 save percentage, stopping nine of the 12 shots he was faced with.

Providence kept the pressure on and at one point held a 5-1 lead over UMass. By the time the Minutemen picked up the pace in the offensive zone, they had a steep hole to climb out of.

Every bit of momentum UMass found itself with was generated by freshmen, who contributed the first three goals on Friday night.

Kenny Connors had another multi-point night, assisting on Tyson Dyck’s goal to break the ice before adding a score of his own later in the second period. Connors controlled the puck behind the net before wrapping in front of Providence’s crease and tucked it into the far post. That goal marked 11 points on the season for the freshman, a team high.

Noah Ellis scored his first goal of the season in the second period; he was the last freshman active in the lineup that hadn’t scored a goal. Now every first year player got the scoring bug off their back just eight games into the season.

“It’s a good thing if your freshmen are scoring, but it’s not a good thing if they’re the only ones,” Carvel said. “This is a tough place to play so it’s a good sign that we got some young guys that can play in this kind of environment, but we’re not going to win unless the older guys give us some more.”

Calc Kiefiuk brought UMass within one goal less than two minutes into the third period, taking a one-timer that beat Philip Svedeback’s blocker side. That brought the Minutemen to life, and they played with desperation through the final frame. But Providence didn’t allow for a comeback. The Friars brought their lead back up to two courtesy of Parker Ford and his line mates Brett Berard and Nick Poission. Providence sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the final 10 seconds, giving Riley Duran a hat trick.

When the clock hit zeroes, Pavicich and Brady combined for 28 saves and allowed seven goals. It was their first off night in net this season.

Heading into Friday night, UMass only allowed eight total goals in its first seven games. Against the Friars, they nearly matched that season total in one night. The Minutemen will look to bounce back from that rough loss when they return home on Saturday for the second half of the series. Face off is set for 7 p.m.

“I don’t think anybody played exceptionally well tonight,” Carvel said. “Hopefully like last weekend we play better on Saturday than we did on Friday, but it’s a bad trend two Friday’s in a row we don’t seem ready to play and we have to figure that out.”

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