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Merrimack suffers another one-goal loss against UMass
AMHERST — The story keeps rewriting itself.
UMass beat Merrimack last night, 3-2, in overtime at the Mullins Center. It was the 11th win in the last 13 meetings for the Minutemen.
It was also the 11th time in the last 13 meetings that the game was only decided by one goal.
Merrimack outshot the Minutemen and (by my count) finished with more 5-on-5 scoring chances, but the Minutemen capitalized on theirs to take two points (the Warriors receive one point in the Hockey East standings for getting the game to overtime).
“I felt good about the way we were playing,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “The big negative is losing to them again, but the positive is that we weren’t hanging on. We had to hang on in the past and tonight we played well. It was a good game, they played well too, but I thought we really played well.”
Early in the first period, space opened up in the high slot after UMass worked the puck behind the net. Ryan Lautenbach got to open space and Taylor Makar found him with a feed from behind the goal line. Lautenbach’s one-timer beat Hugo Ollas to give the Minutemen a lead.
But aside from that goal, the Warriors dominated the first 20 minutes. They outshot the Minutemen 9-3.
In the second period, the Warriors evened the score. Ivan Zivlak carried the puck into the offensive zone and curled at the top of the right circle, which drew defenders toward him. That opened up space for Trevor Griebel at the top of the offensive zone. Griebel settled the puck and fired a shot from the point that hit a UMass defender and deflected past Luke Pavicich. It was Griebel’s first collegiate goal.
Through two periods the Warriors had a 22-9 edge in shots on goal.
“We were strong on the wall,” Borek said. “We understood that we needed to be good on the wall against them. They are really good on the walls and they were again tonight but we competed with them there. That’s why the game was so tight because we competed on the walls and it slowed them down.”
After the Warriors had an early chance on the power play in the third period, the Minutemen were given a man advantage on a holding penalty called against Griebel. The Minutemen featured a lot of puck movement which created some chaos for the Warriors on the penalty kill. Ryan Ufko collected the puck at the top of the offensive zone and fired a shot through traffic (three players) in front. Ollas didn’t see it until it was too late.
Just 37 seconds after the Minutemen took the lead, the Warriors tied it back up. The puck was moved to the crease and Mac Welsher took a heavy hit from UMass defender Scott Morrow. That hit propelled Welsher into Pavicich, and he wasn’t able to stop the attempt from Alex Jefferies. After a review to check on goalie interference, the goal stood.
“That’s a big play by (Matt) Copponi, Jefferies, and Welsher getting that puck to the net right away,” said Borek. “We needed to be able to bounce back like that. It was a big positive for our group. We’re still a work in progress but that was a positive and good bounceback from our group. Now we need to bounceback (Saturday).”
The overtime goal came when the Warriors were caught in a line change and it created a 2-on-1 for the Minutemen.
“They’re dangerous in those situations,” Borek said. “We knew that.”
The series will conclude at Lawler Arena on Saturday night.
Zach Bookman missed his first game of the season with an undisclosed injury. Borek said after the game that he does not believe the injury will keep him out of the lineup long-term, but it’s unlikely he’ll play on Saturday.
Ed. Note — Portions of this story will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
UMass 3, Merrimack 2 (OT) at the Mullins Center Merrimack (3-2-0-1): 0-1-1-0--2 Massachusetts (4-0-1-0): 1-0-1-1--3 First Period: 1. UM Ryan Lautenbach (Taylor Makar), ev 3:26. Second Period: 2. MC Trevor Griebel 1 (Mark Hillier, Mac Welsher), ev, 11:21. Third Period: 3. UM Ryan Ufko 1 (Kenny Connors, Scott Morrow), pp, 6:25; 4. MC Alex Jefferies 3 (Mac Welsher, Adam Arvedson), ev, 7:12. Overtime: 5. UM Taylor Makar (Kenny Connors, Ryan Ufko), 3v3, 16:12. Shots: MC 9-13-5-0--27; UMass 3-6-9-1--19 Saves: MC Ollas (62:16) 2-6-8-0--16; UM Pavicich (62:16) 9-12-4-0--25 Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 3; UMass 1 for 2 Penalties: Merrimack 2-4:00; UMass 3-6:00 Attendance: 3,150