AMHERST, Mass. - No. 2 University of Massachusetts hockey scored four unanswered to break a 1-1 tie and complete its sweep of Vermont with a 5-1 victory over the Catamounts on Saturday night at the Mullins Center. With the win, the Minutemen have matched their 2017-18 win total and currently sit at 17-3-0, 9-1-0 in Hockey East, while UVM drops to 8-11-1 and 1-8-1 in league action.
"When we went away on break, the fear was we'd fall off our game and it took us until tonight to get it back," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. We did some soul searching as a team, last night and today. I wasn't really happy with our effort last night-inconsistent. Elements of our game that had been missing since we returned and tonight they all seemed to come back. Vermont plays a very good defensive system and they have a very good goaltender. It was a game we call a 'pound the rock game'. You can't get frustrated because you haven't scored. We've seen this a few times where we just continue to be persistent and relentless and eventually you break the dam. That was the case in the third period."
After a host of early opportunities, UMass broke though for the first tally of the night at the 10:51 mark in the opening period. Sophomore Cale Makar took a puck chipped up the wall from freshman Anthony Del Gaizo and senior Brett Boeing and flung a shot towards the net that found its way past Stefanos Lekkas.
Vermont managed to tie things up 5:14 into the second period when Liam Coughlin picked off a Minutemen clearing attempt and found Vlad Dzhioshvili who drove to the slot and finished the play with his fourth of the season.
UMass regained the lead before the intermission, though, with Oliver Chau converting on the power play off a feed from Ty Farmer at the 17:10 mark of the second.
The Minutemen then pulled away from the Catamounts with a three-goal third. Makar, after receiving the puck from sophomore John Leonard, found defensive partner Marc Del Gaizo at the net front for the redirection on the power play 5:48 into the third.
Makar followed up the helper with his second tally of the night, backhanding in his eighth of the year from the slot, set up from below the goal line by sophomores Jake Gaudet and Mitchell Chaffee at 13:44.
Chaffee went on to cap the scoring with his team-leading 13th of the season from Marc Del Gaizo and Makar at the 18:14 mark.
UMass out-shot UVM 46-17 in the contest and went 3-for-7 on the power play, while the Catamounts were 0-for-5. Sophomore goaltender Matt Murray had 16 saves and improved to 14-1-0 on the season and Lekkas finished with 41 stops for Vermont.
Makar's four-point performance (2g, 2a) tied a single game career best and marked his second multi-goal game of the season. With a goal and an assist, Chaffee logged his seventh multi-point game of the year and matched his freshman year totals of 13 goals and 24 points in 39 games.
UMass returns to action next Friday, Jan. 18, when the squad will open a pivotal Hockey East home-and-home series with No. 12/11 Northeastern at home in the Mullins Center at 7 p.m.