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 sweeps Maine series with 4-3 win

The Minutemen gain momentum heading into playoffs
Colin McCarthy/ Daily Collegian (2023)

ORONO, Maine — After battling all season to regain strength and re-find their identity, the Massachusetts hockey team closed out the regular season sweeping Maine. UMass (13-16-5, 7-14-3 Hockey East) beat the Black Bears (15-15-5, 9-11-4 HEA) 4-3, a key win for the Minutemen to sustain momentum heading into the playoffs.

Throughout the season, UMass has been struggling finding cohesion and unity on the ice. The series battle on the road against Maine, though, was a different story. With Cole Brady in net, defensive players such as Owen Murray growing each time they hit the ice, and both senior and sophomore lines making the effort to put up points, the Minutemen seem to have found their identity.

Murray has found more time on the ice recently, proving himself as a defensemen. In a passionate game against Maine, huddled around Brady in net, defense was crucial. While Brady making key saves and blocks throughout the night kept Maine from tying the game, defense was able to keep the Black Bears from finding a breakthrough on Brady.

“[Murray’s] a skilled player, he’s just a freshman, he’s getting his confidence now… We know what [he] can do, it’s just up to him to show the rest of the world,” Brady said.

On the senior line, Cal Kiefiuk and Reed Lebster were able to start off UMass in the first period, something head coach Greg Carvel has been looking for in the season. Other seniors also contributed off the scoreboard, putting up a fight against the boards. This momentum from the jump paved the way for underclassmen to put their shots in the back of the net behind Maine goaltender Victor Ostman.

In the second period on a UMass power play, Scott Morrow refused to give up his goal streak from the previous night. Morrow had an easy shot on Ostman from Lebster and Ryan Ufko to put the Minutemen up 3-0.

“Scoring throughout the lineup helps a lot,” Carvel said.

The lead made by the Minutemen motivated the Black Bears. Maine’s first goal by Nolan Renwick came off of a power play to put the team up on the board. The energy from the crowd paired with the desire for the Maine’s seniors to pull off a win at their last home game led to a passionate fight from both teams.

Despite the Black Bears starting to put up points, fighting even harder against the Minutemen, UMass was able to keep momentum on their side. The Minutemen had more control over the puck and greater poise on the ice, finding each other easily and with more fluidity while keeping the Black Bears on their toes.

Eight minutes into the third period, UMass only up by one goal, 3-2, Lucas Mercuri took this momentum into his own hands. From the defensive pairing, Aaron Bohlinger and Morrow, Mercuri was able to sweep the puck past Ostman. Throughout the series, the sophomore line consisting of Mercuri, Taylor Makar, and Ryan Lautenbach refound their identity.

The night ending in a 4-3 win was key in building momentum heading into playoffs, especially in Orono where the Minutemen have not had a sweep since 2010.

“It’s a strong statement to our team, I think we’re better than our record, and it helps us build some confidence,” Carvel said.

The Minutemen are set for a quick turnaround into the playoffs, facing Boston College on Wednesday, March 8.

“We have the pieces, if we get them all rolling at the same time, we can win games,” Carvel said.

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

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