Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass loses sixth straight game, 1-0 to UMass Lowell on the road

Minutemen get shut out for the first time this season
Colin McCarthy/ Daily Collegian (2023)

LOWELL — The Massachusetts hockey team lost its sixth game in a row Friday night, falling to No. 18 UMass Lowell 1-0. The loss ends the Minutemen’s 10-game unbeaten streak against the River Hawks, dating back to Feb. 22, 2020.

Friday night’s matchup met the expectation for a battle between the Minutemen (9-13-3, 3-11-1 Hockey East) and River Hawks (15-9-1, 9-5-1 HEA0; a physical, low-scoring one-goal affair. Both goaltenders were outstanding in net with Gustavs Davis Grigals grabbing the shutout for UMass Lowell and Luke Pavicich stopping 36 of the 37 shots he faced.

UMass Lowell potted the only goal of the night just over eight minutes into the second period. After a failed zone clear by the Minutemen, Dillan Bentley found himself with the puck in his possession in the center of the offensive zone. Bentley took a step forward and ripped the puck top shelf for his second goal of the season. Pavicich had no chance on the goal as Bentley had just about as clear of a shooting lane as he could possibly wish for.

Outside of the goal, Pavicich was close to perfect in net. His highlight of the night came in the waning minutes of the second period when the Riverhawks applied heavy pressure for about 45 seconds straight. UMass couldn’t clear the puck out and Pavicich was forced to make a slew of diving saves, two of which he was in a full split for. He kept them in the game for a full 60 minutes, but the Minutemen simply couldn’t capitalize on their scoring chances.

“Pav’s a good goalie, if he sees it, he’s most of the time going to save it,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “His season is going as I expected it. It’s been more up than down, but there’s been some downs. There’s been maturity that he still needs to grow into, that I fully expected this year and I fully expect him to continue getting better. He’s not near his ceiling.”

Sophomores Scott Morrow and Ryan Ufko played together on the top defensive pairing Friday night, the first time they’ve been paired together in their UMass careers. Despite not getting on the scoreboard Friday, the combo will likely stay together moving forward with the hope being that they will provide more offense from the backend.

“We just got to a point where we’ve been trying to spread them out, but maybe putting them together will create more offense,” Carvel said. “Obviously it didn’t tonight, but we’ll probably stick with it.”

Heading into the third period up a goal, UMass Lowell played its best hockey of the night to keep its one goal lead intact. Instead of simply caving into the defensive zone and scrambling to keep the Minutemen off the board, the River Hawks played with an offensive mentality in the final frame, outshooting UMass 13-6.

The Minutemen struggled to gain entry into the offensive zone the entire period, a big reason for their lack of ability to get on the scoreboard not just in the third but all night long.

“I thought the third was our best period,” UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin said. “We wanted to attack the game and we felt we were getting a little bit better as the game wore on. That was one of the things we preached, is just we want to attack the game regardless of who scores next, we want to get more goals”

 Despite the loss, Greg Carvel was happy with how the team played overall.

“I actually thought that was one of our better games in this building,” Carvel said. “To me that’s a coin toss game. The difference in the game is we turn the puck over in our zone and it goes crossbar down, and we hit a couple of crossbars and it went out. Lowell did a nice job once they got the lead, really playing good strong defensive hockey.”

The Minutemen will look to end their six-game skid next Friday when they face Providence College for the third time this season. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at Schneider Arena.

Matt Skillings can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @matt_skillings.

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