Game Notes: Merrimack vs. Massachusetts (2/14)
Aiming for its longest unbeaten streak since starting the 2011-12 season without a loss in 10 straight games, the Merrimack College men’s ice hockey team continues league play when it meets the University of Massachusetts for a Tuesday (Feb. 14) night Hockey East matchup. Puck drop from the Mullins Center is set for 7 p.m.
Inside the Series
- In a series that dates back to the 1969-70 campaign, UMass is one of just three teams in Hockey East that the Warriors boast an all-time .500/winning record against.
- In that span, Merrimack owns a 39-38-7 mark over the Minutemen, and since the 2009-10 season, the Warriors have gone 10-5-2 against UMass.
- Much of that success stems from the team’s 22-11-6 record on home ice against UMass, as the Warriors have only gone 17-27-1 at the Mullins Center.
- Last year, Merrimack took 3-of-4 points with a win and a tie against the Minutemen to win the season series. The Warriors posted a 4-2 road win at the Mullins Center on Nov. 13 before settling for a 1-1 draw at home eight days later.
- Earlier this season, however, UMass posted a rare win at Lawler Rink, 3-1, on Nov. 11.
Last Time Out
- A hat trick from senior forward Hampus Gustafsson helped Merrimack secure a stunning 6-3 victory at No. 7/7 Boston College on Friday night, as the Warriors posted their first victory at Conte Forum for the first time in nearly 20 years.
- Merrimack could hardly have envisioned a better start, as the Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead just past the midpoint of the first period.
- Gustafsson potted his team-leading 12th and 13th tallies of the year at 3:38 and 8:36, respectively, to get things started.
- Junior Mathieu Tibbet added another greasy goal for the visitors off a 2-on-1 rush; after taking the puck in down the right wing boards, Tibbet set up sophomore Michael Babcock for a one-timer in front. BC goaltender Joseph Woll made the initial stop, but Tibbet got a stick on a still-loose puck in the crease to make it 3-0. Ryan Edquist replaced Woll in net after that third goal.
- The hosts would mount a mini-comeback with two first-period salvos; Matthew Gaudreau netted his seventh at 12:42 before Austin Cangelosi brought the Eagles to within one at 18:20.
- But it was an even-strength situation in which the game’s sixth goal was scored, as freshman Sami Tavernier buried a give-and-go feed from Gustafsson at the right hash to restore the Warriors’ multi-goal cushion, as the Navy and Gold carried a 4-2 edge into the second break.
- BC made it a one-goal game at the 12:11 mark while on the power play after Cangelosi banged in a feed at the back post to cut the Warrior lead to 4-3.
- But after Seney was denied by the crossbar, Gustafsson responded just over a minute later to round out the hat trick, as his 14th marker of the year gave the Warriors a multi-goal lead they would never relinquish. Babock would also add an empty-netter in the final minute.
Scouting the Minutemen:
- Winless in its last 11 games, UMass enters Tuesday at 5-23-2 overall and sits in the basement of the conference standings with a 2-15-1 league mark.
- The Minutemen haven’t won since the calendar turned to 2017; their last victory was a 2-1 overtime win against Alabama Huntsville in the opening round of the Mariucci Classic.
- Senior Steven Iacobellis leads the Minutemen with 18 points (7g, 11a), and is one of five UMass skaters in double-digit scoring figures.
- While Iacobellis also also holds the team lead in helpers, he shares the team lead in goal-scoring, as freshman Griff Jeszka also has lit the lamp a team-high seven times.
- Freshman defenseman Shane Bear has contributed nine points (3g, 6a), the most among Minutemen blueliners, while sophomore Austin Plevy leads the team with four power play goals.
- Three different goaltenders have seen time in net for UMass; freshman Ryan Wischow (4-16-2) boasts the most action with 22 starts (3.20 GAA, .899 SV%); sophomore Ric Renyard (1-6-0) has started seven games (4.01, .880 SV%), and senior Alex Wakaluk made the most recent start.
- Massachusetts ranks third-to-last nationally in scoring offense (2.00) and 55th in defense (3.60); its special teams feature the 58th-ranked power play (9.9) and 40th-ranked penalty kill (81.1).
- Greg Carvel headlined last offseason’s coaching carousel after leaving St. Lawrence, his alma mater, for Amherst; in his previous four seasons, all with the Saints, he had gone 72-63-15 (.530).