AMHERST, Mass. - No. 2 University of Massachusetts used a three-goal second period to skate to a 4-1 win over Vermont at the Mullins Center on Friday night. The victory moves the Minutemen to 16-3-0 overall and 8-1-0 in Hockey East play, while the Catamounts fall to 8-10-1 and 1-7-1 in league action.
"Always good to win, some wins are better than others," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "For whatever reason, team is missing a little bit of a spark that we seem to have lost at the break. Combine it with a lot of sickness going around our team - Mitchell Chaffee was a last minute scratch due to sickness. I felt we played well enough to win tonight. Matt Murray was excellent - the third period he made some huge saves to keep the game three to one. We had some guys in the bottom of our lineup really help us tonight. Niko Hildenbrand was excellent. I thought we had a lot of guys who we don't usually talk about that were the guys who made us win tonight. As a group, we need to be better, but obviously we were very happy to win."
The teams skated through a scoreless first as UMass netminder Matt Murray came up with a stop on a partial breakaway in the final minute of the period to keep Vermont off the board.
Senior Brett Boeing then put the Minutemen on the board 4:08 into the second. Senior Ivan Chukarov set up freshman Bobby Trivigno with a chance that he tucked just wide of the net in a one-on-one Catamounts' goaltender Stefanos Lekkas, but Trivigno was able to corral the puck below the goal line and find Boeing in font, who deposited his fifth of the season into the open net.
Sophomore Oliver Chau converted for UMass on a five-minute power play, wristing a shot past Lekkas off a feed from classmates Mario Ferraro and Jake Gaudet at the 9:11 mark of the stanza.
Gaudet added the Minutemen's third 16:26 into the period, as UMass converted with the man advantage for a second time on the evening, redirecting in a Jacob Pritchard shot from the top of the Vermont crease. Sophomore John Leonard picked up an assist on the play, as well.
The Catamounts cut into their deficit with a power-play goal of their own at the 6:46 mark of the third. Liam Coughlin deflected a Matt O'Donnell shot from the point past Murray to bring the score to 3-1.
Pritchard later cemented the win for the Minutemen with his ninth of the year, an empty net goal from Leonard and freshman Colin Felix at 18:47.
UMass finished the night with a 31-26 shot advantage and went 2-for-4 on the power play, while Vermont was 1-for-4. The Minutemen won 32 of 57 (56.1%) of faceoffs, paced by sophomore Philip Lagunov's 10-for-15 performance (66.7%) above the dots.
Murray made 25 saves to collect his 13th win of the year (13-1-0) and Lekkas turned aside 27 shots for UVM.
Pritchard's goal and assist marked his third mutli-point game in the past four contests and gave him a new career best for a single season with 24 points on the year, while matching his career best of nine goals in a season.
Leonard's pair of assists brought his career total to 50 points in 52 games and marked his seventh multi-point game of the season. Gaudet's goal and assist gave him his second mutli-point game in the past four contests.
The teams will be back in action tomorrow, Jan. 12, closing out their season series with a 7 p.m. matchup at the Mullins Center.