Two goals from Dennis Kravchenko and a stellar goaltending performance from Steve Mastalerz led UMass to a 4-1 victory over Merrimack College Sunday evening.
Just 59 seconds into the period, Kravchenko found the back of the net to double the lead for the Minutemen (8-16-1, 3-11-1 Hockey East) after receiving a pass from captain Troy Power. Jake Horton was also credited with an assist, giving him his second of the game.
Dominic Trento and Patrick Lee each added an empty net goal for the Minutemen.
Mastalerz finished the game with 44 saves, delivering one of his finest performances to earn his first win of the season.
Merrimack’s goal came with 1:15 left in the game courtesy of Hampus Gustafsson.
UMass will be back in action Friday night to take on Boston University on the road.
After a flurry of chances on the powerplay, freshman center Dennis Kravchenko finally scored the first goal of the game to put the Minutemen up 1-0 with just ten seconds left in the period. It’s his seventh goal of the year, and it came on a rebound chance out it front. Dominic Trento and Jake Horton assisted.
UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz has been a rock tonight, with 27 saves so far. He’s eating up shots, funneling rebounds to the corner and looks confident. Barring a third period collapse, this will easily be his strongest game of the season. He’s also taken a beating. Several times, he’s been crashed into by Merrimack players on net drives. Mastalerz also took a high stick to the side of the head after the whistle, and had to be checked on by trainers after a one-time shot hit him awkwardly.
On the other side, Merrimack freshman Collin Delia has been just as good. He already has 30 saves through two periods, and the lone goal he surrendered was at the end of a long powerplay sequence for the Minutemen. He stopped a Zach LaRue penalty shot, and has probably been the second star of the game behind Mastalerz.
A win here would give the Minutemen three of four points against one of the top teams in both Hockey East and the country. Not only would that get them out of sole possession of last place in Hockey East, it would give a young team a big confidence boost heading into the home stretch of the season.
After one period the game is scoreless, but not for lack of chances. UMass had 17 shots in the first period, many of them on the power play and several of them great scoring chances. Merrimack, on the other hand, was uncharacteristically sloppy and lackadaisical in their own defensive zone. They found their offensive legs late in the period, and ended up with 11 shots on net.
Merrimack goaltender Collin Delia was strong in the period, making 17 saves, positioning himself well and limiting rebound chances. He was especially good on the first power play of the game for the Minutemen, making several saves on Frank Vatrano one-time blasts.
For UMass, freshman defenseman Brandon Montour was excellent, playing all over the ice and making some great passes to jump-start scoring chances for the Minutemen. It’s clear he recognizes the talent of Vatrano and fed him multiple times on the powerplay and on rushes.
I would imagine Merrimack is going to get an earful in the locker room about their poor defensive play. The Warriors are ranked seventh in the country in goals against, and I wouldn’t expect them to continue to struggle so much in the last two periods. UMass may end up looking back at the first period and lamenting their inability to put one in early.
The Massachusetts Minutemen and Merrimack College Warriors are set for face off today at 4 p.m. at Mullins Center, following a postponement from Saturday night due to a winter storm. A couple thoughts before the puck drops:
Senior Steve Mastalerz will get the start in net tonight for UMass. It’s his seventh start of whats been a down year to this point; he’s 0-7 with a goals against average 4.85 and save percentage of .857. He will be opposed by Merrimack freshman Collin Delia, making his ninth start of the season. He’s 4-3-1 with a 1.83 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
Here’s the weekend preview from UMass hockey blog Fear the Triangle, as well as another preview from Jason Kates of the Daily Collegian.
This is the second game of a home and home series, with the first game being played Friday night in North Andover, Massachusetts. UMass rallied in the third period to tie the Warriors 4-4.
Stay with Daily Collegian Sports throughout the game for updates between periods, and follow Daily Collegian reporters Ross Gienieczko (@RossGien) and Jason Kates (@Jason_Kates) for up to the minute tweets from Mullins Center.
Massachusetts football coach Mark Whipple said following the end of the 2014 season that his immediate plans were to hit the recruiting trail. On Sunday, UMass fans saw a return on the staff’s recruiting investments in a big way.
According to the Maroon Musket, seven players verbally committed to play for the Minutemen next season as the recruiting picture takes on a clearer focus. With National Signing Day falling on Feb. 4, it’s a busy time for football staffs across the area as they work to secure commitments. Here’s a list of the newest UMass football verbal commitments.
Michael Caggiano, K, New Jersey
D’Shan Harley, LB, Texas
Aaron Kinsey, LB, Florida
Sekai Lindsay, RB, Florida
Artayvious Lynn, TE, Louisiana
James Oliphant, DB, Florida
Reche Thomas, OL, Florida
According to the Maroon Musket, all seven players took official visits to UMass.
Lindsay and Thomas, who are both ranked as three-star recruits by 247sports.com, jump out initially. Lindsay initially committed to Pittsburgh but decommitted over a month ago shortly after former Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst left to coach Wisconsin. According to ESPN, Lindsay received offers from schools such as Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Indiana, NC State and Pitt before deciding on UMass. Continue reading →
The Massachusetts football team is bringing another familiar face back to Amherst.
UMass coach Mark Whipple announced Friday that the team will hire Mark Michaels as its new special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach, a position which had been vacant since the team released Ted Daisher from the role three games into the 2014 season.
Michaels was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach under Whipple in 1998, when UMass won the Division I-AA title. He’s worked with special teams units at both the collegiate and professional level, filling roles at New Haven, Brown, UMass, the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and Fordham.
Michaels has coached at Ridgeview High School in Orange Park, Florida as both the defensive and special teams coordinator since 2008. He also taught as a health teacher.
In 2007, Michaels worked with current UMass defensive coordinator Tom Masella at Fordham, where Michaels worked as a co-special teams coordinator and defensive line coach. Michaels also played collegiately at Connecticut.
Mark Chiarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.
Swedish defenseman William Lagesson announced his commitment to the Massachusetts hockey team Monday afternoon, according to college hockey recruiting website Over the Boards. The site first reported the news via Twitter late Monday afternoon.
96 D William Lagesson (@FightingSaints) commits to UMass. Edmonton's 4th round pick in 2014 is a 6'2, 2-way addition for this fall. Big get.
Lagesson, an 18-year-old defenseman from Goteborg, Sweden, stands at 6-foot-2,198 pounds. He was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the first pick of the fourth round in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, at No. 91 overall. He skated for team Sweden in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship and recorded one assist, eight penalty minutes and a plus-1 +/- rating in seven games.
This season, he has skated with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, where he has scored one goal, added 11 assists and is plus-10 in 25 appearances.
On his Elite Prospects page, Lagesson is described as “A strong defenseman that can put up some points, but plays more convincingly in his own zone. Likes to get involved in the rough stuff and has a pretty good physical game. Strong positionally, but could work some on his skating skills.”
The Edmonton Oilers website profiled Lagesson, and in the feature Dubuque associate coach Oliver David compared Lagesson to Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. “William is very strong, he’s an alpha dog out there on the ice. He is an imposing defenceman,” David said.
Ross Gienieczko can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @RossGien.