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UMass steamrolls past Union behind dominant third period

  • UMass’ Niko Hildenbrand and Union’s Ryan Sidorski battle for control of the puck during the Minutemen’s 6-1 victory Friday night at the Mullins Center. FOR THE RECORDER/J. Anthony Roberts

  • John Leonard of UMass skates the puck in for a shot past Union’s Joseph Campolieto during the Minutemen’s 6-1 victory Friday night at the Mullins Center. For the Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

Staff Writer
Published: 10/18/2019 11:09:23 PM
Modified: 10/18/2019 11:09:09 PM

AMHERST — The tone was set just 25 seconds into the third period.

Immediately off the opening faceoff for the final 20 minutes, John Leonard had a clear breakaway that was stopped by Union goalie Darion Hanson. Yet the Amherst native stayed with the play and slid the puck five-hole moments later for an important goal. Just 13 seconds later, it was a Zac Jones slapshot that evaded Hanson and UMass elevated its game.

The fourth-ranked Minutemen closed out a 6-1 home win over Union on Friday night as dominantly as possible, taking over the game physically and mentally. The Dutchmen attempted just four shots on goal in the third period – none in the final 15 or so minutes – while UMass sent 38 shots in the direction of the Union goal, 22 of which actually reached the goalie.

“It was 3-1 going into the third and we talked about no goals against, no penalties, just try to play a real clean game because this team needs to learn how to win,” coach Greg Carvel said. “And that was a pretty dominant third period, we ratcheted it up in the third.”

UMass (2-1-0) accomplished all of this without its typical top two centers – juniors Jake Gaudet and Philip Lagunov – leaving eight freshmen in the lineup against the Dutchmen. Carvel made the decision to make Gaudet a healthy scratch late Friday and Lagunov dressed but barely played in the victory as the fourth-year coach sent a message to his team about complacency.

The motivation was clearly felt in the UMass locker room as the Minutemen came out and buzzed around Hanson in the opening minutes of the game, but failed to score. The dominance continued for the entire 60 minutes as all of the timidn Minutemen of the first two games transformed into the physically overpowering team that ploughed through the Dutchmen (0-5-0) for 78 shot attempts and 47 shots on goal.

“Man for man, they all played harder, played smarter, it was a big step,” Carvel said. “For me as the head coach, there was a lot of good things that weren’t necessarily there the first two games. We have the luxury now that we have three recruiting classes here  … so we’re at the point now where we have the luxury of taking people out of the lineup if they get too comfortable and that’s what happened (Friday).”

As part of the line changes, Carvel inserted Jack Suter between Leonard and sophomore Bobby Trivigno on the second line, and the trio became the best line on the ice. Trivigno scored twice in the second period to stake UMass to a 2-0 lead, including finishing off a Suter pass 37 seconds into the second period for the game’s opening tally. Suter also picked up an assist on Leonard’s third-period goal as he fit sea  mlessly between the two wingers and asserted his physical presence to keep cycles going below the goal.

“He’s a really hard-working guy who plays the way Carv,  (assistant coach Ben Barr) and (assistant coach Jared DeMichiel) want us to play,” Leonard said. “He’s probably one of our best systematical players, does everything right, so it’s awesome playing with him.”

Even when UMass was shorthanded, it seemed to show a dominance over the game, killing off all five penalties it took in the contest. After the Dutchmen sent three shots at Matt Murray on their first man advantage, they sent just one through the Minutemen’s structure on their final four power plays as UMass took away the passing and shooting lanes.

“It’s mostly just hard work,” Trivigno said. “We’re all out there together as a unit so when one guy’s going, another guy’s going and it’s working in unison to clear pucks and not allow cross-seam passes.”

Trivigno’s second goal came on the power play as he sent a one-timer between Hanson’s pads after a cross-ice feed from Jones. The freshman defenseman had three points on his 19th birthday and he looked far more comfortable on the ice than he did in his first two collegiate games. The same could be said for Reed Lebster, who scored twice by deflecting shot from the blue line into the net.

Carvel said all eight freshmen who played Friday showed signs of figuring out how to succeed at the collegiate level, but there’s still a big test coming Saturday. The Minutemen and Dutchmen square off again at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center and Union will be playing hungrier after a disappointing performance Friday. Carvel said how UMass plays Saturday will be another signal for how his team has progressed from the opening week of the season.

“This will be a telltale for how mature we are and what our mindset is going into the game,” Carvel said. “We got off to a really good start (Friday) and we need to do the same thing (Saturday) because they’re going to be a very angry team. It’s going to be very telling, I think this group right now is in a place where they’re pretty dialed in. I’m interested to see how we respond, there’s no reason we can’t have a dominant performance again.”

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