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 hockey comes out on top with 3-2 victory over Alaska Anchorage

Aydar Suniev and Taylor Makar solidify a Minutemen victory late in the third
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

Coming off of a record win against the University of Alaska Anchorage, the Massachusetts hockey team had a dull performance on Saturday night with a 3-2 win.

Freshman Aydar Suniev and junior Taylor Makar shut down the possibility of overtime with two goals during the last three minutes of the night.

With 2:54 left of regulation, Suniev came racing down the right edge of the rink. He wrapped around in front of the net and lifted the puck to hit the top of the post. With the ding against the post echoing throughout Mullins Center, the path to a Minutemen (10-4-1, 4-3-1 Hockey East) victory was underway.

This was the freshman’s sixth point of the series after tallying two goals and three assists in the Friday night matchup. His linemate, Jack Musa, trailed behind him with four points on one goal and three assists including his pass to Suniev on Saturday.

“Suniev’s goal is an elite goal by a really talented player,” head coach Greg Carvel said.

Moments later, Makar was given an easy opportunity to extend UMass on the scoreboard. Anchorage’s (6-13-1) goaltender Jared Whale slid slightly forward to block a shot that was seemingly in the hands of Kenny Connors and Cole O’Hara. This slight movement gave Makar a blank portrait in the net to secure UMass’ third and final point.

As for Anchorage, they took advantage of UMass’ first period struggles. With no steady rhythm on the ice and turning the puck over numerous times, the Seawolves hopped on the opportunity to put up the first score of the night.

Nearly 13 minutes remained of the opening period when Brandon Lajoie charged down the ice facing Sebastian Törnqvist one-on one. Lajoie slapped the puck over to his linemate Matt Kinash who immediately released the puck off his stick. The puck flew between Michael Hrabal’s legs to lock in the goal.

The fighting effort of the Seawolves was not enough, even as they tried to cut the UMass lead late in the third period. After taking out its goaltender, Anchorage had a man advantage against the Minutemen. Forward Ben Almquist left UMass with a one-goal lead exiting the arena, scoring the second point for the Seawolves at the final one-minute mark.

“It was a pound the rock kind of game,” Lucas Mercuri said.

The night was plagued by lack of energy, penalties and lack of sight on the ice for UMass despite completing the weekend sweep. However, both teams were determined to break the 1-1 tie entering the third period. Tensions rose as the second period minutes ticked down.

Lucas Vanroboys and Mercuri sat beside each other in the penalty box with Anchorage’s Ben Anderson on the other side. This left Hrabal to take on a four-on-three seconds away from intermission. As he saved the last shot from the Seawolves, the Minutemen were given a breather, splitting the Anchorage man advantage between the final two periods.

Exiting the penalty box early in the third period, Mercuri found himself immediately with the puck. Redirecting himself and racing down towards Whale, the junior’s shot went just wide of the net and kept the original 1-1 tie in place.

“I expected both nights to be like [Saturday],” Carvel said. “They play hard, they make you earn everything, and they played much better [Saturday].”

The junior forward provided the first Minutemen goal of the night. Taking his stance behind inside the left circle just behind the dot, Mercuri eyed the pathway to the net and took a strong shot at the puck to tie the score. The puck found its way behind the pipes behind Whale’s left side. Defenseman Scott Morrow tallied the assist on Mercuri’s goal.

“All around good play by my teammates,” Mercuri said of Morrow. “[I] was lucky enough to find the back of the net.”

The Minutemen will take a pause on the action for their holiday break. They return to skates in Lake Placid for the Adirondack Winter Invitational Tournament Dec. 29 and 30. Puck drop against UMass’ first opponent, Cornell University, is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“You can just feel it on the bench,” Carvel said. “There’s no panic, keep doing things the right way.”

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

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