Amherst, MA — Before the 2018-2019 season, the Massachusetts Minutemen had not played in a top-ten matchup since the 2007-2008 season. This season, UMass has played in five such matchups and lost only one. Friday night was their fifth and they demonstrated every facet needed of a championship team against the Northeastern University Huskies in dominant fashion.
UMass had the early jump with a 14-4 dominant shot wins and they were rewarded for their efforts. Only 1:30 into the game, Mario Ferraro fired a puck on net from the blue line. Senior Kurt Keats screened NU netminder Cayden Primeau and tipped Ferraro’s shot through for the first goal of the season. Just before the frame’s midpoint, Jeremy Davies sat for a cross-checking minor. Fourteen seconds into the power play, Jacob Pritchard deked around Primeau and deposited his tenth goal of the season. To close the offensive explosion, Cale Makar fired a stretch pass to Brett Boeing. The senior from Barrington, Il, shot on Primeau and controlled his own rebound for the sixth goal of his season and tenth of his career. UMass led 3-0 on a dominant surge and did not let-up.
The Minuteman D Corps flexed their muscles on both goals in the second period. First, Ty Farmer threaded a perfect pass to Oliver Chau on the doorstep. Second, after Zach Solow sat for a hooking minor, Cale Makar fired a perfect slap-pass for Bobby Trivigno to tip through Primeau and chase the American World-Junior goalie from the net after seeing 17 shots and allowing five goals in 29:48 of ice time. The hero of Northeastern’s 2016 Hockey East Championship run, Ryan Ruck, relieved Primeau and kept the deficit at only 5-0 entering intermission.
The third period started poorly for NU, as Philip Lagunov tracked a rebound in the crease to score the touchdown goal 19 seconds into the third. From there, the game turned from a demonstration of dominance to a chaotic mess. The teams combined for 31 minutes of penalty time with each taking a misconduct minor. Patrick Schule went first, leaving the game on a five-minute cross-checking major and a game misconduct.
On the ensuing five-minute power play, UMass took a pair of minors before triggering a seldom-used rule: 28.2 of the NCAA Rule Book, a major penalty on a goalie. Matt Murray was sent off with 12:09 left and sat in the penalty box for ten minutes, an unusual sight to see the most heavily equipped player in the sin-bin. Finnish Gold-Medal winning goaltender Fillip Lindberg entered in his place and surrendered the only Northeastern goal of the night as Tyler Madden got some measure of revenge for the gold medal game on the power play. Northeastern still only got 16 shots on net and after the antics, UMass skated away with a 6-1 victory.
Northeastern drops to 14-5-1 overall and 8-3-1 in Hockey East play. they fall to three points back of UMass for first place in Hockey East. Head Coach Jim Madigan spoke bluntly after the game. “Wow. We got $#!? kicked for 60 minutes. They out-competed us, outbattled us, wanted it more right from the opening faceoff and it continued through three periods. It was embarrassing, it’s our worst loss in probably five years. And they just kept on hammering us and we didn’t respond. Our top guys didn’t show up and I’ll take responsibility for not having our team ready because it was evident they were just men among little boys here tonight. I thought we looked like a pee-wee team at times against a college team.”
UMass improves to 18-3-0 and 10-1-0 in Hockey East. “Tonight was obviously a bit of a marquee game, two top-ten teams”, Greg Carvel mused. “So obviously a lot of attention. I could tell my team was going to be ready to play. I thought that was as well as we’ve played all season. We made the game extremely difficult on Northeastern with our positioning. I thought we dominated the game. We got a little unraveled at the end when they took the five-minute penalty then we did some foolish stuff. But outside of that, I thought we executed our game plan very well.”
Cale Makar recorded a career-high three assists. The sophomore Hobey Baker candidate is now the second highest scoring defenseman in the country at 27 points, behind only Joseph Duszak of Mercyhurst and tied with Quinnipiac’s Chase Priskie. Teammate Jacob Pritchard’s goal and two assists tie Makar for points. The two are the highest scorers in Hockey East.
Matt Murray stopped all 11 shots faced and Filip Lindberg stopped four of the five shots he faced.
John Leonard did not play because of sickness. Coach Carvel expects Leonard back in the lineup when the Minutemen travel to Matthews Arena to face the Huskies again to close the weekend series. Puck drops at 7 pm in Boston on St. Botolph Street.