Amherst, MA – On the night when Cale Makar returned to the University of Massachusetts to help hang his 2019 Hobey Baker Award Winner banner in the Mullins Center rafters, his old team hung the Maine Black Bears out 5-1. Three first period goals were enough to stifle the Black Bears and a second period tally just sixteen seconds into the action all but sealed this one.
The Minutemen weathered a brief Maine storm in the opening few minutes of the first period in front of the steady play of junior goalie Matt Murray (20 saves). None stood out more than a flurry of saves he made as Tim Doherty and Mitchell Fossier traded scoring chances down low. Massachusetts Oliver Chau led an odd man rush the other way for the Minutemen. Chau kept the puck and shot a wrist shot over the shoulder of Jeremy Swayman for the 1-0 Minutemen lead at 4:54.
Just over a minute later a two on one opportunity had John Leonard dish to Bobby Trivigno who beat Swayman blocker side making it 2-0 Massachusetts. Maine Coach Red Gendron called time out after the second goal.
JD Greenway drew a Five Minute Major and 10 Minute Game Misconduct for Kneeing at 7:43 when he hit Jeremy Davidson in the neutral zone. Davidson was injured on the play and did not return. Trivigno retaliated and was sent off for Slashing after he knocked a Maine players stick from his hands after the whistle.
Maine’s Fossier had a shorthanded bid that Murray stopped. The Minutemen controlled play on their man advantage, the best chance was a Niko Hildenbrand attempt that hit the post.
With a delayed penalty coming against the Black Bears, defenseman Marc Del Gaizo took a Mitchell Chaffee pass from behind the net and wristed a rocket from the left circle past Swayman for his first goal of the season at 14:50. Del Gaizo had been out most of the season thus far due to injury. Along with Chaffee, Anthony Del Gaizo would get the assist on his brother’s goal.
The Minutemen continued to pressure Swayman (37 saves) and the Black Bears as the clock expired on the first period. Massachusetts outshot Maine 14-8 for the period, while the Black Bears controlled the face-off dot 9-7.
Any thought of the Black Bears heeding the coaching staff’s intermission message was quickly erased when Ty Farmer snapped a shot from just inside the blue line past Swayman making it 4-0 Massachusetts with just sixteen seconds gone-by. Farmer’s second goal of the year was assisted by defenseman Jake McLaughlin and Chau.
The Minutemen were all over the Black Bears but there were some positives for the Mainers. Anthony Del Gaizo was sent out for Charging at 1:52. The Black Bears power play was able to gel a bit and develop a few scoring opportunities with deft passing in the offensive zone but UMass blocked a shot and another one sailed over the net.
Throughout the middle frame Fossier, Doherty, and Eduards Tralmaks were generating offense but unable to solve Murray. A Black Bear steal had Tralmaks go low to high with Doherty but Murray stopped his shot. Fossier had a breakaway bid in which he fell as he was going in on Murray yet still managed to shovel the puck towards a diving Murray who made the save.
Hildenbrand, Interference at 17:02 and at 17:54 Trivigno for Tripping gave Maine a five on three power play. It only took Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup three seconds to break the shut-out bid and record his eighth goal of the season. Doherty and Adam Dawe were credited with the assists off the face-off win.
Massachusetts again outshot Maine for the period, this time 15-8. The Minutemen established the will in the face-off circle as well in the second winning 18 of 25.
Leonard added at 16:22 of the third when he tipped a Farmer slapshot past Swayman making it 5-1 Massachusetts. The Minutemen thoroughly dominated all aspects of this game outshooting the Black Bears 42-21 and winning the face-off battle 35-24.
A Five Minute Major 10 Minute Misconduct on Maine defenseman Adrien Bisson at 19:34 marred the ending a bit. It appeared that referee Thomas Fryer had to get between Gendron and Massachusetts Coach Greg Carvel after the two linged longer than usual after the handshake line.
“We were outplayed,” said Gendron. “It was a 5-1 game. We need to work a lot harder and play a lot smarter. Bottom line.”
“Coach Carvel and I are friends. It’s a private conversation,” is how Gendron responded to the question of the on-ice discussion.
“We needed Matt Murray to make a couple big saves in the first five minutes of the game,” said Carvel. “But after that I thought we played desperate, we played a good game to our identity. I thought we dominated puck possession. And to score five goals on (Jeremy) Swayman is tough to do, we found different ways to do that. Only negative to the game was the amount of penalties that we took. When you posses the puck that much you shouldn’t need to take penalties but real happy with the guys. That was a real dominant effort. It was great even having Cale (Makar) here so it was a nice combination. Great to be able to recognize Cale and have him here and doubly nice to be able to follow it up with a real solid effort.”
“That’s between me and Red,” said Carvel when he was asked about the handshake line.
With the win the Minutemen move to 10-4-1 overall (5-3-1 in Hockey East) while the loss drops the Black Bears record to 8-6-3 (4-5-2 in Hockey East). The two teams, who flip-flopped in the standings after this one, will meet again on Saturday night at the Mullins Center for a 7:00 pm puck drop.