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 men’s club hockey outlasts Florida Gulf Coast 4-3

Minutemen survive off 45 save effort by Trey Peterson
Shilpa Sweth
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts men’s club hockey team beat Florida Gulf Coast University 4-3 on Saturday night in game two of its three game weekend. The Minutemen (7-4-1) gutted out a gritty victory to continue their four-game winning streak. 

Sean Brown scored the eventual game winner with a little over seven minutes remaining in the second period. 

An aggressive UMass forecheck chased the puck behind the Eagles’ (10-1-0) net before springing it loose to Brown, who wasted no time ripping it over the goaltender’s blocker to extend its lead to 4-1. 

“[Florida Gulf Coast] is very skilled. That team is probably the most skilled team in the country,” head coach Mike DeFazio said. “We knew we had to be gritty [Saturday], we knew we had to forecheck and that was the only way we were going to beat those guys.” 

The Minutemen’s first goal was similarly manufactured from their relentless pressure as Nick Salvatore picked a defenseman’s pocket before they could break out, deked around the goaltender and tucked it under his pad for a 1-0 lead early in the first period. 

Despite never surrendering the lead, UMass conceded plenty of scoring chances to FGCU throughout the game. Mid-way through the second period, shortly after the Eagles cut it down to a 2-1 lead, they were cycling the puck around on the powerplay when a failed UMass clearance leaked to the front of the net and onto an Eagles’ stick. Minutemen goaltender Trey Peterson made a lunging save, barely pushing the puck over the crossbar to prevent the equalizer. 

Peterson’s heroics were called upon frequently as he turned away 45 shots to preserve the win for UMass. 

“That’s the best game he’s played in a while,” DeFazio said. “[They had] three goals he could have given up four or five others. [Peterson] played unbelievable [Saturday].” 

One of those goals was the product of a persistent individual effort by Florida Gulf Coast’s Spence Van Tiem late in the second period. He received a breakout pass deep in his own zone before darting through neutral ice, toe-dragging his way by UMass defenders. With his winger Jake Court trailing him, Van Tiem dropped the puck off right in front of the net for Court to tap over into the net, making it a 4-2 game at the time. 

That score held until Wyatt Engelmann ripped home a one-timer to make it a 4-3 game with under a minute left. After the ensuing face-off, Florida Gulf Coast pinned UMass in its own zone. Following a wild scramble in their own end in the closing seconds, including a desperation swat at the puck by Peterson to push it to the corner, the Minutemen held on to win. 

“We started out really well, and then I think as the game went on, Florida took it to us a bit, but we did enough early on in the game,” DeFazio said. “We built ourselves a big enough lead, but it came down to the wire.” 

That cushion was built in the second period starting with a goal from Dominic Boccelli, his second in as many games. Two minutes into the period, Boccelli settled a bouncing puck coming across the hash marks. He finished the play by blasting the puck glove side to build a 2-0 lead for UMass. 

Shortly after, Will Trischitta made it a 3-1 Minutemen lead off a clean offensive zone entry. Gliding by the Eagles’ defense, Trischitta whipped a shot by the goaltender before anyone could close the open ice. 

James Rust can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @James_Rust.

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