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 comes out on top 3-2 in Thursday night battle against Providence

Lucas Mercuri sinks in game-winning goal in third period
Kayla Wong
Daily Collegian (2023)

PROVIDENCE, R.I — In a battle of even strength, the No. 15 Massachusetts hockey team defeated No. 5 Providence College on Thursday night, 3-2.

Junior forward Lucas Mercuri powered his way to score the game-winning goal with under a minute left of the third period.

The final minute of the third period seemed to be pushing the Minutemen (7-3-1, 3-2-1 Hockey East) and Friars (8-2-2, 4-1-2 HEA) into overtime. Mercuri, however, determined to put the puck behind the Friars’ goaltender Philip Svedeback. His linemate, Ryan Lautenbach caught a pass from defenseman Samuli Niinisaari. With Mercuri right in front of the net, Lautenbach got the puck over to Mercuri who found a gap to give UMass the win.

“I just… went up the ice and had a lot of options for some reason. I just looked to my right side, I know [Lautenbach] was there,” Mercuri said. “I like to feed him the puck… I thought maybe I’d feed it to [him], then he made an unbelievable play to me. I just stopped in front and buried it in the open net. So, unreal plays by my teammates for sure.”

The Minutemen’s victory was deemed by the energy the players brought to the ice from puck drop. With the addition of the defensive strength from a lineup that was forced to switch mid-game as Owen Murray suffered an awkward hit against the boards that marked the end of his night.

Stepping up to the plate, though, were Ryan Ufko and Elliott McDermott.

Ufko gave UMass more life in the third period, tying the game 2-2. Keeping himself positioned in the middle away from the mass, Scott Morrow quickly swiped the puck over to his fellow junior defenseman. Immediately taking in the pass, Ufko sniped the puck through the air. The puck clinked against the posts to sound off a Minutemen goal.

McDermott was another standout defenseman for UMass, getting more control over the puck and finding the stability to take shots. The senior closed out Thursday night with five shots and one on goal.

“I thought [McDermott] was really good… really good with the puck and really good defending,” head coach Greg Carvel said.

UMass’ first goal of the night was completed by freshman Cam O’Neill. With the puck bouncing around the ice off of the stick of Lucas Vanroboys, Christian Sanda took control and made a short pass to O’Neill. On his first look, the puck bounced off of the legs of Svedeback. Slowly sliding out of the net’s range, the forward grabbed his own rebound and poked it into the back of the net on Svedeback’s right.

The lamp lighter was O’Neill’s first collegiate point and Sanda’s first point of the season. The goal gave the Minutemen some life with a tied score, 1-1.

“[Your first goal] is something you kind of dream of, so I kind of blacked out when I saw the puck went in” O’Neill said. “I was really happy, [I] jumped into [Sanda’s] arms.”

However, UMass still trailed 2-1 as the seconds of the second period ticked down, proving that the night would be a hard-won battle.

With goaltender Michael Hrabal struggling to keep a stable eye on the puck, Providence took its opportunities to invite chaos around the UMass net. Forward Jaroslav Chmelar forced a turnover against the boards, which was collected by Nick Poisson. Poisson sent the puck over to Chase Yoder who was flying down towards the net. Threatening Hrabal on his right, Yoder tapped the puck in on the goaltender’s left despite Hrabal’s attempt to stick out his leg for the block.

Even with a battle of even strength, the Minutemen’s sloppier plays during Thursday’s first half were costly with the poise and aggressiveness the Friars brought to the rink.

Providence’s first goal of the night blossomed from a turnover. UMass’ third line attempted to create some offense, but it was cut short as Kenny Connors tried to find Taylor Makar who was forced to extend his stick behind him to try and corral the puck. It was too late as the Friars hopped on the opportunity.

Driving the puck down the ice, Luke Krys got a look from Poisson and Chmelar. Taking his shot right above the blue line, Krys’ shot flung right behind Hrabal’s right shoulder, hitting the top half of the net, and gave the Friars a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Leaving the Schneider Arena, the Minutemen head back home to the Mullins Center for Saturday night’s battle against the Friars. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m. in Amherst.

“It’s always a huge battle… kind of just playing 50/50 battles,” Mercuri said. “That’s all it is. Shooting pucks, winning puck battles.”

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *