UMass hockey ties UMass Lowell on Saturday night

Minutemen lose shootout but extend unbeaten streak to four games

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Colin McCarthy/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Sydney Ciano, Collegian Correspondent

On Saturday night, the Massachusetts hockey team and UMass Lowell hockey teams couldn’t find a way to win in regulation or five minutes of 3-on-3 hockey, skating their way into a tie. Lowell dominated the shootout and gained an extra point in Hockey East.

The No. 15 Minutemen (7-5-3, 3-5-1 HEA) battled six penalties compared to the one penalty on the No. 16 River Hawks (9-6-1, 5-4-1 HEA), pushing the Minutemen to rely on the growing confidences of Taylor Makar and Luke Pavicich.

“One team gets six power plays, another team gets one. It’s tough, it’s an uphill battle,” head coach Greg Carvel said after the game.

While penalties were continuously being called, the momentum on the Minutemen bench struggled as these calls started getting into players’ heads, especially with the crowd also expressing their distaste for the officiating. Alongside battling these penalties and their own mindsets, the Minutemen struggled with controlling the puck in the first period as well. Passes were off, and only one scoring attempt put the Minutemen on the board.

Kenny Connors had two attempts at the net with UMass Lowell goaltender, Gustavs Davis Grigals, off balance and leaving the net open for a good scoring opportunity. The freshman was unable to bury either chance, as Grigals made a flailing save to keep the puck out.

Despite these disadvantages, however, UMass celebrated its small victories. With over six minutes into the first period, Taylor Makar scored with an assist from Scott Morrow and Lucas Mercuri. This put the Minutemen on the board, 1-0, early in the night. Makar was an asset to the team in terms of speed and fire, motivated by Carvel’s confidence in him coming off of an injury.

Likewise, growing confidence in goaltender Luke Pavicich was noticeable on Saturday. He was a stable player, saving a total of 35 shots. His addition to the night’s game was recognized not only by his head coach, but by the whole team as he proved himself a strong goaltender for the rest of the season.

With this hard battle between the Minutemen and River Hawks, players were clustered around the net on both sides of the rink. For UMass, though, players refused to give up goals as they enacted a sacrificial-life gameplay to aid Pavicich at the net who persisted to save goal while unbalanced. Elliott McDermott saved a would-be goal on a puck that trickled past Pavicich in the first period. The puck seemed destined to cross the plane before McDermott dug it out from behind his netminder and cleared it out of harm’s way.

Between Pavicich’s play and the defense in front of him, UMass’ stretch of allowing over four goals per game evaporated.

 “I’m showing him trust that he’s building confidence … The one goal [UMass Lowell] did score was kind of a fluke,” Carvel said.

That goal was scored by Dillan Bentley during the second period near the end of UMass Lowell’s third power play of the game, sliding behind Pavicich and tying the game 1-1 for the rest of the night.

“He’s really learning to play the game … it won’t be the last one he scores,” head coach Norm Bazin said of the freshman, Bentley’s power play performance.

Though the game ended in a shootout, a component both coaches agreed is not indicative of the game, Carvel acknowledged the good effort his team showed on the ice. Without the disadvantage of facing six penalties to one, Carvel would have liked to see what the score would have been.

As the Minutemen enjoyed playing back at home, they have a quick turnaround for their next game. UMass returns to Mullins Center on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. to face Merrimack in its final game before the winter break.

Sydney Ciano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SydneyCiano.