UMass hockey falls to Boston College 5-2 in Hockey East preliminary round

Cole Brady gives up five goals, makes 37 saves

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian(2023)

By Colin McCarthy, Video Editor

NEWTON — The Massachusetts hockey team played better than the scoreboard showed on Wednesday night, but in the postseason, there are no moral victories. UMass (13-17-5, 7-15-3 Hockey East) lost 5-2 to Boston College in the opening round of the Hockey East tournament.

“Game to finish the year kind of summed up our whole year, just a microcosm,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “Gave up a couple soft goals, didn’t create enough offense, just pretty consistent with the whole year.”

The Eagles (13-16-6, 8-12-5 HEA) got going early on and took the wind out of the Minutemen’s sails within two minutes by scoring a quick goal. That marked the beginning of a period in which UMass looked very good at times but made crucial mistakes that put itself into a hole.

After allowing another goal late in the period, the Minutemen responded with a tally to make it 2-1 but gave up another deflating goal, this time with 15 seconds to play, giving BC all the momentum heading into intermission.

Flashes of offense presented themselves at key moments, and both of the Minutemen’s goals were beautifully executed. Ryan Ufko scored in the third period on an unassisted tally, taking back the puck at the blue line and firing a wrist shot past Mitch Benson.

In the first period, picture perfect passing set up UMass’ first goal of the night. Ryan Lautenbach moved through the neutral zone and fired a cross ice pass to Lucas Mercuri leading him into the offensive zone with leverage. Mercuri drop-passed to Mikey Adamson who quickly went back across to the ice to Taylor Makar.

All that puck movement took Benson out of position and created a wide open net for Makar to shoot at. The sophomore fired a hard one-timer for good measure to blister the back of the net.

“You have to make plays to score a goal,” Carvel said. “We don’t do a great job making plays. That goal, the guys did a real good job, we just didn’t do it enough this year.”

The senior top line didn’t show up on the scoresheet but played a sound defensive game led by Eric Faith’s favorable positioning. Strong defensive zone play led the group to successful breakouts up the ice, but none of the seniors capitalized on their scoring chances and came up empty.

Regardless of how it ended for the group, Carvel has plenty of appreciation for their impact on the program.

“You can’t take away from them, they were a part of winning teams,” Carvel said. “The quality of the kids in the group is outstanding … they’re really good kids and they’ve accomplished a lot in their college hockey career that most kids don’t.”

The Ufko-Owen Murray pairing shined on defense and spent the most time on the ice of any Minutemen group. Outside of those two, though, the backend struggled to stop the Eagles’ speed.

Scott Morrow and Elliott McDermott both finished minus three on the night and gave up a lot of quality chances on Cole Brady. And, with Aaron Bohlinger out, Carvel had to revert back to a two-freshman defensive pairing, with Adamson and Noah Ellis seeing ice time together.

Brady had an average night in net, letting five past him but also making 37 saves. The defense in front of him didn’t ease the pressure on its netminder, leading to 42 total shots for BC.

UMass’ power play unit has steadily remained on of the most efficient in the nation, but on Wednesday it couldn’t get anything going on either of its attempts.

The Minutemen’s season comes to a close the same way the story’s been written for months: flashes of promise before ultimately coming up short.

“I’m in deep reflection and evaluation of how things have gone south so quickly,” Carvel said. “A lot of adjustments need to be made, I think some things have slipped … things you can’t fix in the middle of the season, but I know how this program found success and we’ve gotten away from that in a lot of ways.”

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