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 takes down Vermont, 4-1

Minutemen score three in the third period to shut the door
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team beat Vermont 4-1 on Friday night in the first of its two-game series. A three goal third period made the difference for the Minutemen as they cruised to their first regulation Hockey East win of the season.

Lucas Mercuri scored the goal that stood to be the game winner just over seven minutes into the third period.

The Minutemen (6-2-1, 2-1-1 HEA) were in the middle of a sustained offensive zone possession when Ryan Lautenbach got the puck to Scott Morrow at the point. Morrow saw Mercuri break free of a Vermont (2-4-1, 1-31 HEA) defender and open himself up in front of the net and fed him with a quick pass. Mercuri cut towards the goaltender and slid the puck through his five-hole to extend the lead to 2-0.

The third period was UMass’ best, due in large part to strong structural play in all three zones which led to the run of goals.

“It’s been an emphasis to stay focused and do the little things right in the third and play proper defense,” Mercuri said. “Good on our leaders to talk about that in the locker room. Ended up playing good defense which led to offense.”

Michael Cameron was moved up to the first line with Mercuri and Lautenbach, a switch that paid off for the Minuteman offense as the line combined for three goals and four assists, while factoring in on all four goals.

“I thought the difference tonight was [the line of Mercuri, Lautenbach and Cameron],” head coach Greg Carvel said. “Not just that they scored, but that they scored because they played so well.”

Lautenbach’s goal, which broke the ice late in the second period, gave the Minutemen the momentum they needed heading into the third.

“I thought in the first period we heavily out-chanced them and they heavily out-chanced us in the second, but we were able to be opportunistic in the second period,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “That was a big goal, we weren’t creating much, but that was a really good finish from Lautenbach and Mercuri”

Vermont head coach Scott Wiedler felt similar to Carvel in that his team played a strong second period.

“I think we played a really strong second period,” Wiedler said. “Hopefully inside the room that gives our guys some confidence. The challenge is how do we replicate it, you don’t win a game from just playing a strong second period. That’s our challenge, figuring out how we can replicate that and make that game happen over and over again.”

Scott Morrow was an impact player on Friday night scoring his third goal of the season as well as recording his ninth assist to bring his point total to 12 on the season, which leads the team.

Morrow scored the Minutemen’s third goal of the night, an insurance goal that stood to be important when the Catamounts attempted a late comeback.

After making a D-to-D pass to Samuli Niinisaari, Morrow recognized a lane opening up in the slot and rushed to fill it. Niinisaari moved the puck to the corner to Ryan Lautenbach who cut below the goal line towards the net. He recognized Morrow had made the jump to the slot and quickly slid the puck through a fray of sticks in front of the net to Morrow who finished the play off with a one-timer.

Cole Brady was the beneficiary of two posts hit by Vermont players, but was sturdy in net, nonetheless. He made solid positional saves despite not facing too many high-pressure tests from the Catamount offense.

The Minutemen will be back at it tomorrow night for the second game of the back-to-back with the Catamounts. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.

Matt Skillings can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @matt_skillings.

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