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 skates its way to another shootout win against Vermont

Ryan Ufko and Cole O’Hara net goals for the Minutemen
Kayla Wong/ Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team and Vermont (9-15-5, 4-12-3) found themselves back in a shootout battle on Saturday after the Minutemen (10-13-5, 4-11-3 Hockey East) gave up another three-point lead to the Catamounts.

With some shifts in the lineup, UMass relied on Ryan Ufko on the ice to put up the points.

Less than five minutes into the second period, Ufko found himself poised with the puck. With a path for a straight shot, the defenseman swept the puck from rear center right by Vermont’s goaltender, Oskar Autio. The clean shot assisted by Kenny Connors and Cole O’Hara put UMass on the board, 1-0, setting themselves up for a successful second period.

The freshmen forwards, O’Hara and Connors, kept the momentum on their end with a little over five minutes left of the period. From Connors, O’Hara took a scoring opportunity to keep the Minutemen up. With a diving effort, putting himself into the net with the puck, UMass doubled their lead 2-0 and skated their way into the third period.

Though he did not show up on the scoreboard Saturday night, Tyson Dyck was tasked with filling the shoes of Reed Lebster, playing in the same line with Eric Faith and Cal Kiefiuk.

“He had a nice play or two… He’s shifty,” head coach Greg Carvel said of the freshman forward.

Alongside Dyck, the freshman and sophomore lines also proved themselves on the ice compared to Friday night. While the first game of the series being plagued with penalties from both teams, the lines came together as a unit to play a more composed and controlled game of hockey. Taylor Makar was noticeably quick on the ice, using himself as a weapon against the Catamounts.

This strength was evident in the few penalties UMass did take. Every player on the ice for these power plays were able to find vulnerability against the five Catamounts, poke the puck out of their control, and kill seconds on the clock.

“It’s another piece of the puzzle… we dipped and now it’s come back,” Carvel said.

Despite the Minutemen regaining composure over the game during the first two periods, Luke Pavicich could not shutout the Catamounts in the last twenty minutes.

Vermont hit the ice with determination to answer after Ufko put his second goal of the night on the board. Roughly three minutes later, Isak Walther from Eric Gotz and Joel Matta found an opening at the UMass net to sneak it past Pavicich. This goal started Vermont’s stretch to tie the game. Thomas Sinclair and Timofei Spitserov within seconds of each other quickly brought the score to 3-3.

“We’re so excited about them,” Vermont head coach Todd Woodcroft said of the three underclassmen.

While this was the end of the night for Pavicich as Henry Graham took position at the net, both teams continued to play down to the second.

Ufko ended the night with a hat trick, but even his three-point game could not bring UMass to a win. Instead, Spitserov put another in the back of the net leading both teams into overtime and eventually a shootout.

Proving himself again in the shootout, Michael Cameron and Ufko gave the Minutemen the advantage as Graham stood tall to shut out the Catamounts.

“We actually feel like he’s our best shootout goalie,” Carvel said.

After having the advantage of playing in the Mullins Center surrounded by fans once again for the Vermont series, the Minutemen are set to hit the ice at Boston College Friday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.

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

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