No. 12 Minutemen Rally To Top Merrimack
AMHERST, Mass. -- The No. 12 University of Massachusetts hockey team rallied from a 3-2 second-period deficit and scored the final three goals of the game to complete a weekend sweep of Merrimack, 5-3. The win improves UMass' record to 7-1-0 overall and the Minutemen sit atop of Hockey East with a 4-1-0 conference mark.
UMass came out firing on all cylinders and put three shots on Merrimack freshman goalie Jim Healey, who was seeing his first collegiate action, in the first two minutes. Marvin Degon (Millbury, Mass.) had two of the shots, one while streaking down the left side that nearly slipped through Healey's pads. The Minutemen went on the power play just four minutes into the contest, that turned into a prolonged four-minute advantage after another Merrimack penalty, but the Warriors' defense stood tall and ended UMass' extra-man threat. The Minutemen had three power plays all told in the first period, but couldn't push one across. Merrimack had a great opportunity to take an early lead on a 2-on-1 break but Gabe Winer (Stoughton, Mass.) made saves from in close on Steve Crusco and Justin Mills to keep the game scoreless. However, that was as close as Merrimack would get, firing only three shots on goal on Winer and the UMass defense.
Merrimack opened the second period on its first power play of the game, but a Warriors' penalty killed it and the Minutemen went on their fourth power play of the evening, but couldn't get set up in the zone and Merrimack killed off yet another extra-man chance. After the Warriors went on the power play, but it was the Minutemen that capitalized on the Merrimack attack. Mike Warner (Waltham, Mass.) wristed a high shot after a Merrimack turnover in the UMass zone that trickled past Healey at the 5:42 mark, with an assist to Nick Kuiper (Beaconsfield, Quebec) and Thomas Pöck (Klagenfurt, Austria). The goal, Warner's first career shorthanded netter, set off an offensive explosion by both teams as the squads combined for seven goals in a 12-minute span. The Minutemen went up 2-0 just a minute later when Greg Mauldin (Holliston, Mass.) picked up a loose puck and slid a low shot that beat Healey to the far right post. After Merrimack tallied three goals in a three-minute span, including two on the power play, the Minutemen regained the lead when Mauldin tallied goal number two on a beautiful power-play netter at the 13:11 mark. Mauldin one-timed a Chris Capraro (Medford, Mass.) pass from the left slot to even the score at three. Degon also assisted on the goal. UMass then went up 4-3 when Stephen Werner (Chevy Chase, Md.) came out of the penalty box after a penalty and Pöck fed him with a length-of-the-ice pass. Werner took the pass, put a deke on Healey and slid the puck into the back of the wide-open net at the 17:09 mark for his second goal of the season. Jeff Lang (Westwood, Mass.) also assisted on the goal.
The Minutemen had another excellent opportunity when they went on their seventh power play of the game early in the third period, and after having several good looks including a post shot by Degon, the Warriors stopped the attack again. However, shortly after killing off the Minuteman penalty, UMass went up 5-3 on Warner's second goal of the game. Warner blistered a shot past Healey after he had come out to cut off the angle. The puck caught him scrambling and past his outstretched pads for a 5-3 margin at the 16:49 mark, which was the final tally. The Minutemen outshot the Warriors 25-12 for the contest and Winer made nine saves to earn his sixth win of the season.
The Minutemen will return to action next weekend with a key early-season Hockey East showdown against No. 5-ranked Boston College. Face-off is slated for 7:00 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 14, at the Mullins Center. For ticket information, call the UMass ticket office at 1-866-UMASS-TIX.