UMass hockey ties UMass Lowell at home but falls in shootout

  • UMass forward Taylor Makar, shown earlier this season against AIC, scoared against UMass Lowell, as the Minutemen tied with the River Hawks on Saturday at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2022 4:58:59 PM
Modified: 12/4/2022 4:58:36 PM

AMHERST – The penalty box door next to the UMass hockey bench may as well have revolved.

Six Minutemen passed through it Saturday against No. 16 UMass Lowell, robbing No. 15 UMass of any flow in a 1-1 tie at the Mullins Center. The River Hawks won the shootout 2-0 to claim an extra point in the Hockey East standings, but both teams received a tie in their overall record.

UMass (7-5-3, 3-5-1 Hockey East) only went on the power play once.

“I’m not sure why [penalties] were so lopsided. I thought it was a pretty even game. I would have liked to see the score if we didn’t have to kill six penalties,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “It was a game where the refereeing got it into our heads for sure. It’s hard to get it out when they just kept calling penalties.”

The Minutemen killed five of UMass Lowell’s six man advantages. They faced 10 shots down a man.

“We try to use it as momentum, kill it off and it’ll give our bench energy to go back to work after that,” UMass forward Reed Lebster said. “Unfortunately we took too many penalties tonight.”

They took four in a little over 20-minute span between Ryan Lautenbach’s interference at 17 minutes, 12 seconds of the second period and Kenny Connors’ slashing call at 17:42 of the third. Taylor Makar was whistled for tripping 5:52 into the third, and Aaron Bohlinger went to the box for boarding five minutes later.

“It’s tough to play games when we’re always shorthanded,” Makar said. “We did a good job at playing through it, but it’s something we need to work on so we don’t have to do it anymore.”

UMass Lowell (9-6-1, 5-4-1) only converted the Lautenbach interference into a power play goal. Freshman Dillian Bently tucked home a rebound off the back wall for his first career tally. Isaac Johnson and Jon McDonald received assists on the play, which was the only blemish on another sterling night for UMass goalie Luke Pavicich.

“I’m showing him trust, and he’s building confidence,” Carvel said. “It’s unfortunate, the one goal they did score was kind of a fluke. He made a lot of saves that should have been goals.”

He stopped 35 shots and hasn’t given up more than two goals in his past four games, all starts. It was his eighth game this season with at least 30 saves and fourth in a row.

“That’s really big for us. We need to help him out and not give up 40 shots,” Lebster said. “Then on the offensive end, find a way to score some goals and win some games.”

Makar set them on the path early. He sped up the left side of the zone with a feed from Lucas Mercuri 6:19 in, wheeled in front of Lowell goalie Gustavs Davis Grigals and flipped a backhanded shot into the back of the net. Scott Morrow also received an assist. He’s scored a goal in each of UMass’ last two games and has a three-game point streak. Makar is tied for second among the Minutemen with five goals this season.

“We've been trying to convince him for a year and a half to do that. He's just decided to do it. It's pretty effective,” Carvel said. “He's just gaining confidence in his game and he's a high energy player, high energy kid. Again, he's just realizing how effective he can be.”

The goal stood until the final minute of the second period. Neither team put a shot on goal in overtime, and Lowell’s Carl Berglund and Ryan Brushette converted in the shootout.

“The guys love to have shootouts. They would have a shoot out every day at practice if you let them,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said. “We find a way to incorporate at least two or three times a week. Keeps the goalie sharp. You can tell as a coach who's scoring more often in practice, so you can choose the right guys.”

UMass dropped to 0-3 in shootouts this season. The Minutemen also fell in the season opener at AIC and against then-No. 4 Quinnipiac in the final of the Friendship Four in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“We practice it a lot. We’re just not very good at it,” Carvel said. “It’s not ideal. I think it’s terrible. I don’t like it at all, but 62 teams vote.”

UMass is still 2-0-2 in its last four games, all against ranked teams. That followed a five-game losing streak.

“In that patch we gave up a lot of goals. We needed to get back and play some good defensive hockey,” Carvel said. “That’s what was missing. We needed consistency in the net. We’re getting that now. If you’re doing that, you’ll find a way to win a lot of games.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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