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 ties first game of Vermont series, 3-3

The Minutemen find scoring from freshmen and seniors
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team’s three goal lead heading into the third period did not guarantee it a win, tying Vermont 3-3 on Friday night.

The Minutemen (10-13-4, 4-11-2 Hockey East) had a three-goal leading heading into the third, but when the 20 minutes ended, UMass was headed into overtime with the Catamounts (9-15-4, 4-12-2 HEA). Michael Cameron and Cole O’Hara netted goals in the shootout to earn an extra point.

After the seniors took over the scoresheet against Providence, it was only right for the freshmen to open up scoring on Friday. With less than three minutes taken off the clock on the penalty kill, Kenny Connors made a defensive play that left Cameron wide open. On a breakaway that started in the neutral zone, Cameron took a wrist shot for the first goal of the game.

In the same period, Connors quickly tapped the puck in off an O’Hara rebound for a goal of his own. Connors’ and Cameron’s goals tie them for most on the team with eight each this season.

“Recently I’ve been starting to feel like I can get back to where I was before break,” Connors said. “I still want to keep pushing forward and our group to. I feel like all of us want to find better within each other.”

After the freshmen added to the scoresheet, the seniors earned their own goal. A perfect pass from Eric Faith to Reed Lebster started the chance. Lebster then backhanded the puck to Cal Kiefiuk with a Catamount draped around him, and Kiefiuk faked goaltender Oskar Autio out for the third goal of the game.

“That was a real nice goal by the senior line on Kiefiuk’s goal,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “It’s nice that [Kiefiuk] is heating up. He’s scored two games in a row.”

The freshmen did not just score but also showed dominance on other sides of the ice. Cameron won four of his eight faceoffs, ending the game with a 50 faceoff percentage.

“I’m lucky to play with two players that are so good with the puck and so good away from the puck with [O’Hara and Cameron],” Connors said.

While other freshmen still have shown some inexperience. Mikey Adamson slotted into the lineup for the first time since Jan.21 against Connecticut. With Adamson being paired with Kennedy O’Connor, the third defensive pairing saw the least amount of ice time.

UMass’ power play has stayed consistent and reliable despite not always scoring when up a player. Connors on one of the Minutemen’s power plays had seen the ice perfectly throughout his shift on the power play. The first big play was the freshmen on a pass to Lebster but the puck sailed wide. Shortly after, Connors passed to Kiefiuk but the shot then went wide again.

After Ryan Lautenbach was hit from behind into the boards to end the first period, Vermont was called for a five-minute major. In the five minutes, the Minutemen struggled to generate shots on net. UMass’ second unit couldn’t get anything going even with multiple opportunities.

Both teams took multiple penalties throughout the game with the Minutemen taking the most. UMass took seven penalties through 60 minutes. The Catamounts took four in the same amount of time.

Ryan Ufko was kicked out of the game on a misconduct due to head contact. After UMass killed off the five minutes, Morrow deked past a Vermont player to attempt a shot at net but came up empty. Lautenbach caught the rebound but shot it at the goaltender’s chest. To finish off the play, Lucas Mercuri took a wrist shot, but the play was called dead.

Luke Pavicich looked strong in net to start but lost his feet in the third period. In the final frame, Pavicich lost his shutout after Finn Evans slipped the puck past the goaltender. Pavicich thought he had saved the puck but with the puck slowly sliding behind him, Vermont had its first goal of the day. Shortly after, Massimo Lombardi got around Pavicich to put the game at a one goal difference. With letting three goals by him, Carvel was left displeased with his performance.

“I don’t think Pavicich was very good,” Carvel said. “Two of the goals were bad. He needs to be better. The whole team needs to be better but if the team is not prepared then that’s on the coaches.”

UMass will look for a bounce back in the series on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Mullins Center with puck drop set for 7 p.m.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kaygregoire.

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