Huskies Drop Opener at No. 7 UMass, 5-1
AMHERST, Mass. –The UConn men’s hockey team opened the 2020-21 season on Friday night at the University of Massachusetts falling to the No. 7 nationally ranked Minutemen, 5-1 at the Mullins Center. The Huskies took the ice for the first time since March 6thafter seeing last year’s post season cancelled and this season’s start delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UMass got goals from five different players and outshot the Huskies 46-22 on the night. The Minutemen killed off all five UConn power plays and were two-of-six with the extra skater. After playing to a 1-1 tie through the first 20 minutes, UMass took the lead back in the second and then dominated the third period, putting three on the scoreboard.
Oliver Chau had a goal and an assist while Bobby Trivigno and Aaron Bohlinger each had a pair of assists on the night. Goaltender Matt Murray made 21 saves to earn the win in net.
For UConn, junior Kale Howarth (Red Deer, Alberta) scored the Huskies lone goal, coming in the first period off a nice feed from classmate Jonny Evans (North Delta, British Columbia). Junior goaltender Tomas Vomacka (Trutnov, Czech Republic) stopped 41 shots, 21 in the first period, in taking the loss.
The Minutemen took advantage of an early 5-o-3 power play chance, piling up shots on the Huskies and Vomacka before finally breaking through at the 5:26 mark. Josh Lopina carried the puck behind the net and found Cal Kiefiuk at the right post who quickly punched it past the Husky goaltender for a 1-0 lead.
UConn tied it at the 14:18 mark on Howarth’s first of the season on a pretty play by Evans. Freshman Cassidy Bowes (Sturgeon County, Alberta) found Evans behind the net and he flipped a slick back-pass to Howarth at the right post who buried it to tie the game up at 1-1.
UMass took back the lead just 2:54 into the second stanza. Chau did a great job possessing the puck down deep and was able send a pass to an oncoming Garrett Wait in the slot who buried a one-timer chance into the top right corner for a 2-1 edge and what would be the game-winner.
The Minutemen pushed their lead to 3-1 at the midway point of the third. Defenseman Colin Felix whipped a pass from the right circle cross ice to a waiting Oliver MacDonald in the left circle who was able to just squeeze a wrist shot inside the near post to beat an oncoming Vomacka.
UMass tacked two more on late to cement the win as Zac Jones pounded in a rebound at the right post at 17:29 and Chau followed with a wrister from the high slot area through some traffic at 18:51.
The Huskies will play their first game at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum since the 2013-14 season tomorrow afternoon when they welcome the No. 7 Minutemen to campus for a 4 pm re-match.