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 opens up season with 5-3 win over AIC

Ryan Lautenbach opens up scoring for the Minutemen
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team started its season off on the right foot in its 5-3 win over American International College in its home opener on Saturday night.

Junior Ryan Lautenbach opened up the scoring early for the Minutemen to give them the momentum they needed. The play started off on an Elliott McDermott cross ice pass to a streaking Taylor Makar. Lautenbach came down the ice crashing the net as Makar sped down the side, giving him a passing option. Makar passed the puck over to Lautenbach as he tapped the puck in to the net to bring UMass up 1-0.

“For me, it was awesome,” Lautenbach said. “It’s a good play by my linemate Taylor Makar, using his speed and body to give me that pass.”

The junior line of Lautenbach, Makar and Lucas Mercuri looked to be one of the best lines on the ice which is exactly what head coach Greg Carvel is looking for out of the line. After ending their season not offensively at their best, a successful start to this season was welcomed for the line. They also have been more vocal, becoming leaders despite not having letters on their jerseys.

“They were leaders,” Carvel said. “We don’t have a senior forward on our team so they act and take that responsibility of showing the rest of the team how we need to play and all three of those guys, they are really good leaders. They play the game hard.”

“I hope to, I’m trying to,” Lautenbach said about being a leader. “It’s a good leadership group that we have going, it’s not just the two captains and they do a great job and I think the group that is a leadership group does a good job too.”

The physicality of their sophomore year carried over into their junior year. The three made big hits along the boards to turn the puck over to UMass’ possession, although they did result in a couple of penalties.

The juniors were not the only ones to take penalties, an area that Carvel emphasized he believes is currently not a concern for the Minutemen. In the third period three players took penalties that took the wind out of the sails of the Minutemen.

“I want to look at the penalties,” Carvel said. “I don’t feel like it was a discipline issue. We really push them to play hard and play physical and you’re going to take penalties doing that. Discipline wasn’t a concern for me tonight.”

Samuli Niinisaari continued the scoring for the Minutemen in the first period. New guys continued to score in the second period with a goal from freshmen Jack Musa. While the Yellow Jackets answered back after Brian Kramer slipped the puck past goaltender Cole Brady, momentum was not lost on UMass’ side.

That became prevalent after the sophomore line came onto the ice less than a minute into the final period. In front of the UMass net, Cameron caught the puck and skated with just an AIC defenseman on him. The sophomore quickly tapped the puck in right in front of the net to give UMass a 4-1 lead.

Cameron and the sophomores were also a line that showed offensive upside with plenty of chances created throughout the game. Cole O’Hara had looks at the net with plays that typically started from Kenny Connors. Cameron was all over the ice which led to his goal in the third period.

Cole Brady stood tall in net for most of the night, being just what UMass needed to stay ahead in the game. Through three periods, Brady made 36 saves with 15 of those saves being in the first period. Brady, while having a freshman Michael Hrabal ready for his chance in net, looked like a solid starter for the Minutemen.

“Outstanding,” Carvel said on the goaltender. “He’s a different person. We’ve helped him, he’s earned a lot of confidence. I thought he was outstanding, he gave up three goals but I thought he made a lot of big saves. ”

In the last five minutes of the third period, the Minutemen slipped a little bit. After going into the period with a 4-1 lead, they allowed two goals to the Yellow Jackets.

To cement a UMass win, Ryan Ufko scored an empty netter after AIC pulled its goaltender as it attempted to comeback.

The Minutemen will play in a scrimmage against Dartmouth on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 4:00 p.m. They will take on Michigan at the Mullins Center on Oct. 13 at 7:00 p.m.

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

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