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 captures first Hockey East win in overtime against Northeastern

Kenny Connors nets the late game-winner
Dylan Nguyen
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team defeated the Northeastern Huskies in overtime by a score of 2-1 on Friday night. The late-game heroics came after a lackluster first two and a half-periods.

The overtime period lasted less than two minutes with Scott Morrow skating around in open space and finding Jack Musa fresh off the bench near the blue line. Musa moved the puck over to Kenny Connors near the left faceoff dot, who ripped a shot into the net to take the overtime victory.

“I just tried to shoot it through a screen so the goalie couldn’t see it,” Connors said. “[I was] just fortunate with the way the shot ended up.”

With under two minutes in the third, the Minutemen (5-2-1, 1-1-1 Hockey East) were caught sleeping, with a long stretch pass coming from Pito Walton deep from the defensive zone of the Huskies (2-3-0, 0-3-0 HEA). Alex Campbell and Cam Lund had a two-on-zero break and only one pass was needed for Lund to find the back of the net and tie the game at one goal apiece.

UMass got its goal on a rush started in the middle of the third period, with Lucas Mercuri carrying the puck in through the neutral zone and losing his stick past the blue line. The loss of lumber didn’t affect the junior forward, playing soccer with the rubber disc to get deep behind the Northeastern goal.

Mercuri kicked the puck to Liam Gorman who moved out from the right corner, finding Aaron Bohlinger waiting at the right face off dot. The pass from Gorman came and Bohlinger made the most of it, one-timing a slap shot into the top of the net.

The end of the second and beginning of the third periods featured Northeastern on the power play due to a major penalty from Ryan Lautenbach. The hit-from-behind was a game misconduct, forcing Lautenbach to be ejected from the rest of the contest.

“Anytime you get a [major penalty], it stinks, but we try to pride ourselves on taking adversity and responding well,” Bohlinger said. “To see it in action is always really nice.”

The long penalty kill for UMass was successful, with the unit blocking shots and allowing goaltender Michael Hrabal to continue his dominance. Shot after shot came flying at the freshman goaltender, and he came back with save after save, flashing the glove, blocker and whatever else it took to keep the puck in front of the goal line.

Late in the third, the Minutemen had sustained zone time, wearing out the Huskies skaters and firing away at Whitehead. Each shot brought fresh legs on the ice for UMass and kept the pressure on. Whitehead continued to stop everything coming in his direction moving between the pipes with confidence.

The Huskies came out to a strong start to the second period, keeping the puck in their offensive zone for the first three minutes. The Minutemen were stuck unable to change, but Hrabal held strong making huge saves to keep Northeastern off the board.

“[Hrabal’s] as good as I’ve ever had in the net. Even [after] four or five games, whatever it is,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “His talent, his size, his composure, his compete, his attitude. They’re all elite. We’re lucky to get to watch him each night.”

UMass flipped the script in the middle of the second, controlling the puck around the blue line and creating a multitude of scoring chances.

The two teams picked up their physicality in the second, with players flying in and playing the body. The mentality change created three combined penalties, with one on the Huskies and two from the Minutemen.

The first period didn’t feature much in terms of offense for either side with no goals being scored and only 13 shots combined out of the two teams.

UMass got its four shots in the first by controlling possession for a large chunk of the period, while Northeastern created opportunities in spurts and on the rush to create nine shots of its own.

“It’s funny how the games work, sometimes you think you play well and deserve to win, sometimes you don’t play so well and you find a way to win,” Carvel said. “That was the case [Friday night].”

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

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