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 junior forward line scores three times at Minnesota State

Minutemen forwards combine for four points on the night
Kira Johnson
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team got production from its junior line Friday night, helping pave the way to a 6-3 victory against the No. 19 Minnesota State Mavericks.

Ryan Lautenbach, Lucas Mercuri and Taylor Makar got to work in the second period for the Minutemen (3-1), showing their cohesion with one another and getting Lautenbach on the board with his first goal of the night.

Scott Morrow carried the puck across the blue line into the Mavericks’ (2-2) defensive zone, noticing Lautenbach to his right. Lautenbach received a pass right on top of the right faceoff dot before launching his shot hard over the glove of the Minnesota State goaltender.

Lautenbach wasn’t done there, getting some time on the penalty kill to continue his productive night. He worked alongside Mercuri as the two forwards wasted time on the Mavericks power play, before hopping on the rush.

Mercuri skated down the left side of the ice with the puck, entering the offensive zone and seeing Lautenbach crashing hard to the front of the Minnesota State net. Mercuri’s hard pass made its way right onto Lautenbach’s stick before being redirected into the center of the net.

The shorthanded goal made it three on the young season for Lautenbach, only one off his total of four in 2022-23. The goal also put the Minutemen in the lead 4-3, a lead that they held onto till the final buzzer.

“[Lautenbach’s] raising his game,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “He’s got three goals now, and I think he only had four all last year. We’ve got guys [whose] games are rising, and we’ve got good depth up front.”

The group’s goal-scoring continued into the third period, this time on the man-advantage with the puck being moved around at the point while the forwards got into position. Mercuri found a spot for himself right in the slot, in between four Mavericks defenders.

Cole O’Hara saw the junior center open in the middle, finding a gap in the defense. Mercuri redirected the pass top shelf high over the glove into the top right corner of the goal. The power play goal was Mercuri’s first of the season, after scoring three in the year prior.

Makar didn’t finish the game with anything in terms of points but made his presence known in other forms of play. He showed his physicality throughout, while also coming through for his squad defensively.

The three-goal night from the junior line played a huge role in the Minutmen’s ability to win over Minnesota State. Without the production from the veteran forwards, UMass may not have found a way to take down the No. 19 team in the nation.

UMass and the junior forwards get another chance against the Mavericks in less than 24 hours on Saturday, Oct. 21. Puck drop from Mankato is set for 7:07 p.m.

“[The junior forwards] were leaders,” Carvel said after the Minutemen’s opening game against AIC. “We don’t have a single senior forward on our team, so they act and take on that responsibility of showing the rest of the guys on the team how we need to play.”

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mikecmaynard.

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