AMHERST, Mass. - No. 4/5 University of Massachusetts hockey responded to a 1-0 first intermission deficit by scoring three second period goals en route to a 5-3 season-opening victory over Rensselaer on Friday night at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen begin the year at 1-0-0, while the Engineers fall to 0-1-0.
"The reason we like to play those exhibition games is so we don't come out and have a first period like we had tonight," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "It took a little while to get the rust off, but I thought we responded very well in the second period. With 19 shots on net, I thought we were really taking the game over."
When it appeared the first period would end scoreless, RPI capitalized on a failed clearing attempt by the Minutemen and Will Reilly found Zack Dubinski front. Dubinski roofed the puck over the shoulder of goaltender Filip Lindberg to give the Engineers a 1-0 lead at the 19:34 mark.
Just 2:11 into the second period, UMass answered with the equalizer. Freshman Cal Kiefiuk blocked a shot at the top of the slot in the defensive zone and took the puck up the ice on a partial breakaway for his first collegiate tally.
Then at 10:48, junior Mitchell Chaffee cleaned up a Zac Jones rebound to put the Minutemen on top, 2-1. Chaffee and Jones connected once more just 1:09 later with Chaffee setting up Jones' first career goal, a scorcher from the blueline on the power play.
RPI closed the gap to 3-2 at the 3:56 mark of the third when Patrick Polino found the inside of the far post.
UMass quickly answered back with freshman Reed Lebster hammering home his first of his career on a 2-on-1 with Kiefiuk picking up the helper at 4:13.
The Engineers made it a one-goal game once more 8:12 into the third as Ryan Mahshie finished off a feed from Mike Gornall and Tristan Ashbrook from inside the left faceoff circle.
Chaffee locked up the win for the Minutemen at the 18:44 mark, adding an empty net goal from junior Philip Lagunov for his second of the night.
Chaffee finished the contest with three points on two goals and an assist, Kiefiuk and Jones had a goal and an assist apiece, as well.
UMass out-shot RPI, 39-23 and went 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Engineers were 0-for-2. Lindberg made 20 saves for the Minutemen and Owen Savory turned aside 34 in net for RPI.
UMass will be back in action next Tuesday, Oct. 15, when the squad will open Hockey East play at No. 15 Northeastern in Boston at 7 p.m.