Amherst, MA- Greg Carvel has developed a winning culture in Amherst. This season, the Massachusetts Minutemen have notched excellent wins against 8th ranked Providence College, ECAC power Quinnipiac, and 19th ranked Union College.
After a month away from home, UMass returned to the Mullins Center to face the 8th ranked Northeastern University Huskies. Northeastern completed a sweep of the Maine Black Bears last weekend and came into Amherst with a chance for first place in the conference.
With the Hockey East slate heating up, UMass rose to the challenge and caught Northeastern stuck in quicksand.
The first period did not go UMass’s way. Northeastern controlled the shot totals, 15-7, and made UMass goalie Matt Murray sweat. Their power play got a chance halfway through the period and peppered Murray with five shots. However, nothing got through the freshman from St. Albert, Alberta. He saved all 15 shots and kept the top power play in the country at bay.
The Minutemen did have a five on three power play at the other end, but could not beat NU’s freshman goalie, Cayden Primeau. After some quality skating, the game entered the first intermission scoreless.
UMass completely dominated the second period, outshooting Northeastern 14-3 and giving only one power play to the Huskies. The scoring opened just after the halfway point of the period when Mitchel Chaffee tipped in an Ivan Chukarov blue line shot. Northeastern lost any semblance of control with 4:20 left in the second period.
Biagio Lerario decked Cale Makar head first into the boards and was called for a five minute major and a game misconduct. 12 seconds into the power play, Mitchell Chaffee potted his second goal of the night for 2-0 UMass lead. With Northeastern flat and the Minutemen riding high, the momentum belonged to the home team.
On paper, the third period was even. The teams matched each other in the shots with 11 each. In rhythm and feel though, UMass again carried the momentum.
Early in the frame, Freshman defenseman Mario Ferraro danced his way through the NU defense and dropped the puck on Austin Plevy’s stick in the slot. The Junior from Langley, British Columbia, beat Primeau for a 3-0 Minutemen lead.
Any chance of a Husky comeback ended when Jeremy Davies was called for the second major penalty of the night, for slashing. He hit Murray in the head after the whistle. Davies was ejected and Northeastern spent the rest of the game on the penalty kill.
Matt Filipe and Dylan Sikura got shorthanded breakaway shots, but Murray stopped the Huskies from getting on the board and closed out a 3-0 victory over Northeastern.
Huskies Head Coach Jim Madigan was disappointed after the game.
“There was nothing good on our side of the house. They played harder than us. They, plain and simple wanted it more than us. We were in quicksand all night long. They’re a good team and our mentality wasn’t there tonight.”
The loss was Northeastern’s first against UMass since October 24, 2014, and the first in Amherst since November 12, 2011. It also was the first time anyone has shutout Northeastern all season. Cayden Primeau saved 29 of 32 possible shots. With the defeat, Northeastern falls to 14-6-3 overall and 10-4-1 in Hockey East.
Amherst Head Coach Greg Carvel was positive but focused after the game.
“I’m proud of my team. We matured and took on a top team in our league. It’s probably the biggest win of our season. Now the trick will be taking this effort on the road and winning in their building tomorrow.”
Mitchell Chaffee’s two-goal game was the first of his collegiate career and his first multi-point game since beating Union in December. Matt Murray’s 29 save shutout was his second of the year and first since October 27th against Merrimack. The win pushes UMass’s record to 11-10-1 overall and 5-6-1 in Hockey East.
The teams conclude their weekend set with a matchup at Matthews Arena in Boston on Saturday night. Puck drops at 8 pm.