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 gets back in the win column with 3-2 victory at Providence

Minutemen end 31 day winless streak
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2023)

PROVIDENCE, R.I — The Massachusetts hockey team went an entire month without a win, but finally ended that drought on Friday night when it scored a 3-2 victory on the road against Providence.

The last time the Minutemen (10-13-3, 4-11-1 Hockey East) came into the Schneider Arena, they came away with one of their worst losses of the season, 7-4. On Tuesday, UMass coach Greg Carvel said he wasn’t taking much away from that contest since it happened so early in the season. What he did want the Minutemen to remember was the way they felt after the loss.

After coming out hot and earning a two-goal lead in the first period, it was clear that message was received. UMass played Friday night’s game fast and physical, and the result was a much different feeling game than the first matchup.

“It feels great, I’m happy for the guys to get rewarded, I think we’ve played well on the road the last couple games and deserved better,” Carvel said after the game. “We’ve been talking about how we’re not far off from flipping things, we called tonight a flip game and the guys played well.”

Reed Lebster was the star of the night, scoring two goals of his own and reigniting a Minutemen offense that struggled to produce goals during its losing streak. There were plenty of key performances that went under the radar though.

Jerry Harding threw his body around on every shift and made sure to set the tone of the game right away. He was a starter alongside a fellow former Friar (12-10-6, 7-6-5 HEA), Matt Koopman, and within the first five seconds of the game he laid a big hit on a Providence player into the boards. Harding understood his role was to be the big bodied forward, and he played to that style against his former team.

“Jerry brings that [physical] game to us and it’s going to help us out a lot,” Lebster said of Harding’s impact. “He brought that tonight and I think that was huge for us.”

Eric Faith was a surprise addition to the lineup on Friday after he sat out practice on Tuesday morning. He provided key minutes and showed heart for his mere presence on the bench, a testament to his mental and physical toughness.

“He just looked so good in practice the last two days, this morning I had one of the assistant coaches go up and ask him if he feels like playing,” Carvel said. “He looked at me, shook his head yes and I said ‘yeah, then he’s playing.’ He looked good in practice, and I thought he was really good tonight.”

Despite the strong start, UMass allowed the Friars back into the game in the third period when Parker Ford found an open lane in the Minutemen’s zone and fired a wrist shot past Luke Pavicich.

Pavicich faced a high volume of shots by Providence, and although he gave up a few juicy rebounds, he was able to pounce on many of those pucks before they landed in the stick of a Friar. The sophomore netminder made 43 saves on Friday night, including a key breakaway save late in the third period of a tie game.

It wasn’t long after that breakaway stop that UMass found itself another lead. With under nine minutes remaining in regulation, Scott Morrow gathered the puck at the blue line and fired a shot on net, which Cal Kiefiuk redirected past a helpless Philip Svedebäck and into the top of the net. The Minutemen were able to close out the final minutes and survive a late Friars push to come out on top.

The game wasn’t always pretty, and the Minutemen still have plenty of work to do during the final stretch of the season. But they’ll take a win any way they can get it, not only to boost their confidence, but also because every HEA point matters for tournament seeding.

“We have to build off this now,” Carvel said. “We needed this to feel good about ourselves and they earned it tonight.”

UMass will look to build on the momentum of Friday’s win as it heads into a two-game home series against Vermont on Feb. 10 and 11. Puck drop for both matchups is 7 p.m. in the Mullins Center.

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

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