Junior forward Branden Gracel nets two goals for Minutemen

Junior forward Branden Gracel scored two goals for the Minutemen

AMHERST, Mass. - Junior Branden Gracel's first career multi-goal performance helped lift the UMass hockey team to a 3-1 win over Vermont on Tuesday night at the Mullins Center. With the victory, the Minutemen improve to 3-5-1 in Hockey East action, 4-5-1 overall, while the Catamounts fall to 2-5-2 on the year.

Junior Conor Allen provided UMass' opening tally to mark his third straight game registering a point. His classmate, Conor Sheary, notched an assist in his fourth consecutive contest and now leads the team with seven helpers on the year. Junior Michael Pereira dished an assist as well, his sixth point of the year, all which have come in his past five games.

UMass took a 1-0 lead just 5:51 into the contest as Sheary collected his own rebound and sent a cross-ice pass to Allen at the far point. Allen fired a shot past Brody Hoffman for his third of the season.

However, UVM came up with the equalizer at the 11:20 mark. Kyle Mountain picked up the puck from Anders Franzon in the slot. Mountain's initial attempt was stopped by Kevin Boyle, but Anthony DeCenzo was there to put home the rebound for his first tally of the season.

The Minutemen climbed back on top with the lone goal of the second period. Gracel picked off a clearing attempt by the Catamounts' defense and snapped a shot into the top left corner at 3:57.

Trailing by one, Vermont had a prime opportunity to answer early in the third after a pair of penalties left UMass down in a 5-on-3 situation for one minute, 34 seconds. The Minutemen successfully killed off the pair, though, and held the Catamounts to a 0-for-4 night on the power play.

Gracel went on to add an insurance goal for UMass at the 14:55 mark of the third. Catching Vermont on a line change, Pereira intercepted the puck and backhanded a pass over to Gracel who put it into an open net.

Boyle totaled 24 saves in his fourth win of the season, while Hoffman stopped 28 for the Catamounts, who were out-shot 31-25 in the contest. The Minutemen also controlled the game over the dots, winning 38-of-64 faceoffs.

UMass will break from Hockey East action for its next contest, playing host to #18 Quinnipiac on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Mullins Center.