AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts hockey used a four-goal first period, which included three of the squad's four power-play goals on the evening, to roll to a 6-1 victory over Rensselaer in its 2018-19 season opener on Friday at the Mullins Center. Sophomore Cale Makar led the charge for the Minutemen (1-0-0) with two goals and two assists, the first UMass defenseman to post a four-point game since Mike Kostka in 2006.
"For the first game of the season, I thought it was a fairly sloppy game," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "But fortunately, our special teams were very strong tonight. We felt last year that our power play was down a lot of nights and we could have won more games if our power play was more effective. So we made (our power play) a focus point through September and it was good to see them be successful and effective. I thought 5-on-5 the first half of the game that RPI was actually the better team. I thought our puck management wasn't great and allowed them some scoring chances."
After limited offensive opportunities at the outset of the first period, senior Jacob Pritchard put the Minutemen on the board at the 11:03 mark with UMass on a 5-on-3. Makar sent the puck down low to freshman Marc Del Gaizo who found Pritchard at the opposite faceoff circle for the graduate transfer's first tally in a UMass uniform.
The trio added another shortly after as the power play continued as a 5-on-4. Pritchard's initial attempt from Makar was stopped, but Del Gaizo managed to put away the rebound for his first collegiate goal 12:10 into the first.
RPI returned the favor with a power-play goal of its own by Jakub Lacka at 15:14, to trim its deficit to 2-1, but it was all Minutemen the rest of the way.
UMass put an exclamation point on the opening stanza with two goals in the final 56 seconds of the frame. First was sophomore Mitchell Chaffee's blast from the slot at 19:04 followed by a highlight reel individual effort from Makar, splitting the Engineers' d-men for the unassisted tally at 19:33.
Freshman Ty Farmer provided the only goal of the second period, another power-play conversion for the Minutemen, hammering home a loose puck in the crease from classmate Bobby Trivigno and sophomore George Mika at the 14:15 mark.
Makar then capped the scoring with his second of the night 12:21 into the third, tapping one in at the doorstep from senior Brett Boeing and junior Niko Hildenbrand.
The Minutemen finished the night with four power-play goals, going 4-for-7 with the man advantage. The last time UMass accomplished such a feat was against Michigan State at the Mullins Center on Oct. 20, 2013. RPI went 1-for-7 on the power play for the evening.
Sophomore Matt Murray got the nod between the pipes and posted 27 saves for the Minutemen, while Linden Marshall and Owen Savory had 23 and eight stops for the Engineers, respectively. UMass finished the night with a 37-28 shot advantage.
Of the eight newcomers in the lineup for the Minutemen, four had at least one point in Marc Del Gaizo, Farmer, Pritchard and Trivigno,
The teams will complete their home-and-home tomorrow night, Oct. 13, in Troy at 7 p.m. at Houston Field House.