AMHERST, Mass. - No. 4 University of Massachusetts hockey scored three times in the final three minutes of the third period, breaking up a 1-1 deadlock to secure a 4-1 victory over American International on Friday night at the Mullins Center. The victory moves UMass to 4-1-0 on the season, a perfect, 4-0-0 mark at home, while the Yellow Jackets fall to 1-3-0.
"I give my guys credit, when their feet were really up against the fire, they dug down," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "I'm not happy with the poor start of the game, but I am happy with the strong finish. When we weren't in the box the last two periods, I thought we were playing well, but we couldn't stay out of the box and that's about as lopsided penalty minutes as we've been involved with in a long time, but we found a way, and that's a sign of a good team. AIC is a good team, extremely well-coached team. The fact we were able to shut their power play down tonight in the situations that they had, that's a sign of the character of our guys."
Sophomore Anthony Del Gaizo, put the Minutemen on the board early for a second straight game as he took the puck to the net on a feed out of the corner from juniors Oliver Chau and Mitchell Chaffee and roofed it over Zackarias Skog to give UMass a 1-0 lead 3:12 into the contest.
AIC answered before the close of the period, though, with Jared Pike burying a one-timer from Patrik Demel and Justin Cole from the slot at the 14:10 mark.
The teams remained deadlocked at 1-1 for the next 42 minutes and 50 seconds, with UMass keeping the Yellow Jackets at bay through a five-minute power play, which included a full two minutes of 5-on-3 late in the second period. The Minutemen ended the night a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
With exactly three minutes remaining in regulation, junior John Leonard pocketed the would-be game winner after senior Jack Suter caused a turnover in the AIC zone, beating Skog down low for his second of the season.
Freshman Cal Kiefiuk followed with some insurance just 37 seconds later, redirecting in a Reed Lebster shot at the post.
Leonard then finished off the scoring with an empty net goal from Suter at the 19:15 mark for his third multi-goal game of his career.
Junior Matt Murray made 15 saves in the win for the Minutemen, while Skog totaled 25 stops between the pipes for the Yellow Jackets. UMass ended the contest with a 29-16 shot advantage and was 0-for-4 on the power play.
The Minutemen will be back in action next weekend, resuming Hockey East play with a home-and-home against No. 11 Northeastern, which will begin in Boston on Friday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m.