Scott Morrow brings back UMass’ defensive power on Friday night

The Minutemen defense starts to piece itself back together

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2023)

By Sydney Ciano, Collegian Staff

To combat the defensive struggles the Massachusetts hockey team (9-11-3, 3-9-1 Hockey East) faced in the past few games, Scott Morrow brought dominance and two goals against the UConn Huskies (14-7-3, 9-6-2 HEA) on Friday night.

Despite another scoring defenseman, Aaron Bohlinger, being absent from the night’s lineup, Morrow was able to answer against UConn and help the Minutemen keep the momentum on their side for most of regulation.

This was the defensive power UMass has been missing in the past few games. The team has not only struggled to answer quickly but has been unable to find rhythm in a broken defense. In Friday night’s game, Morrow was set to break this pattern, being one of the three defensemen that were able to prove themselves on the ice throughout the sixty minutes.

Over fifteen minutes into the first period, Huskie Hudson Schandor found a breakthrough scoring the first goal of the game. Morrow, though, would not let the momentum shift. Less than two minutes after Schandor’s goal, the sophomore defenseman quickly skated down the ice to tie the game 1-1 with a deep shot assisted by Jerry Harding and Matt Koopman.

“[Morrow’s] pretty reliable offensively … that goal was important,” head coach Greg Carvel said.

With under ten minutes of gametime and down two more key players, Cole O’Hara and Reed Lebster, Morrow broke the 2-2 tie after dominating the first power play of the game. With Kenny Connors, Ryan Ufko, and Morrow trying to find a breakthrough past Huskie goaltender Arsenii Sergeev, the right side defenseman persevered past these blocks with an assist from Ufko and Connors to put UMass up 3-2.

This defensive power blossomed early in the game, growing throughout the first period. In a recent pattern, the Minutemen have been slow to put their foot on the gas and prove their dominance. Friday night was a different story. The team was able to keep the puck out of their zone, only allowing four shots on goaltender Henry Graham, compared to the 15 on Sergeev in the first period alone.

The Minutemen ended the night with 37 shots on goal with eight of these coming from Morrow. Power in the UConn zone was not Morrow’s only strength.

The sophomore was a threat to the Huskies each time he hit the ice with speed and strength. In the second period, Morrow was the first to reach Graham on the opposite side of the ice for the Minutemen to regain control over the puck and keep the Huskies away from the UMass zone. He continued to apply pressure on the Huskies from the start of the game, not allowing UConn to break the 3-3 tie as the teams skated their way into overtime.

Morrow paved the way for another defenseman, Elliot McDermott, to put his offensive powers to the test as well. Though his three goals did not show up on the scoreboard, the defensive power of UMass continued to be threatening around the UConn net.

“I’ve been spoiled with the defensemen we’ve had here,” Carvel said.

Despite giving up a goal with thirteen seconds left of overtime, giving the Huskies a 4-3 win, there was still a silver lining to the performance for the Minutemen as Morrow touched on the game being successful in terms of gaining strength and momentum. The UMass hockey team is set and ready to bring this rekindled fire on the defensive end as the season goes on.

“We’ll be a team that no one wants to see in the Hockey East Playoffs,” Morrow said.

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