AMHERST, Mass. - No. 8/9 University of Massachusetts hockey broke up a defensive battle with a power-play goal late in the second period and added insurance in the third for a 3-1 win over Merrimack at the Mullins Center on Saturday. The victory levels the Minutemen's record at 2-2-1, while the Warriors fall to 0-1-0.
"We knew playing through COVID that certain nights teams were going to be at distinct disadvantages and tonight that was obviously the case," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "Merrimack was very short on their bench and they made it a heck of game, I give them a lot of credit for their effort to keep it close when it probably shouldn't have been. I thought we had the momentum for a good portion of the game, but still we gave up odd-man rushes and breakaways and that allowed them to score. Merrimack played hard and kept it close. It was a good hockey game. I think we were at an advantage being a little more game ready than they are and I expect tomorrow night I think they'll get some players back and it will be another hard game tomorrow night."
With the squad's fourth power play chance of the night winding down, freshman Josh Lopina finished off a tic-tac-toe sequence from junior Marc Del Gaizo and freshman Oliver MacDonald to put UMass up 1-0 at the 14:08 mark of the second period.
Then 6:30 into the third, sophomore Eric Faith redirected junior Colin Felix's shot from the point for his first collegiate goal to give the Minutemen some breathing room. Del Gaizo earned an assist on the play for his second point of the night.
At the 13:16 mark of the final stanza, Alex Jefferies and Logan Drevitch sprung Chase Gresock for a breakaway, which he converted to halve the Warriors' deficit at 2-1.
Junior Bobby Trivigno went on to seal the win for UMass with an empty net goal for his first tally of the season from Lopina and redshirt senior Carson Gicewicz at 19:16.
The Minutemen finished the contest with a 28-17 shot advantage and were 1-for-4 on the power play, while Merrimack was 0-for-2. Murray made 16 saves for UMass and his counterparts Jere Huhtamaa and Zachary Borgiel made 16 and 9 stops, respectively.
The weekend non-conference series between the schools will conclude tomorrow, Dec. 6, in North Andover with a 4:30 p.m. start time.