Wagon Wednesday, Week 1: Three Stars of the Week

Neal Wood

It was an action-packed weekend for UMass with the football team on the road at Florida Atlantic University and the hockey team at home against UConn last Friday night, followed by an afternoon matinee at UConn on Saturday. Every Wednesday we’ll look to highlight the top three UMass individual player performances from the prior week. 

This week there were several standout individual efforts both on the ice and on the football field. Our first star of this edition of Wagon Wednesday is sophomore defensive back from Kingston, New York in Tanner Davis. Friday night, Davis was all over the field, and it showed on the score sheet. Recording numerous pressures on the FAU quarterback and six tackles on the night, Davis was a key piece in the success of the Minutemen defense. Davis’ shining moment came with just under two minutes remaining in the first half when he got home and blocked a FAU punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The defense would go on to hold the Florida Atlantic offense to just three points in the entire second half for their best performance of the season.

Our next star this week comes on the ice in Oliver Chau, the senior forward who had himself a three-point weekend. In Friday night’s home opener, Chau put home his first goal of the 2020-21 campaign and recorded an assist, as well. The following night, Chau added another assist on Matthew Kessel’s first period goal. Chau, like Davis, was all over the ice using his speed to generate scoring chances in both games for the Minutemen. Look for Chau to continue to make a big impact throughout the season.

Finally, our third star of this week’s Wagon Wednesday is a tough choice, as there are several Minutemen who put up exceptional performances this weekend. But senior goalie Matt Murray earns the honor for his dominant performance on Friday. Murray got the nod from Coach Carvel to open the season between the pipes and turned away 21 of 22 UConn shots, posting a stellar 95.5 save percentage. The only goal Murray allowed was the result of a misdirection caused by Husky forwards around the net in the first period. After that, Murray was perfect and kept the UConn powerplay off the board. That concludes this week’s edition of #WagonWednesday. We are looking forward to the start of the Women’s Basketball season and hopefully the Men’s season will shortly follow. Happy Thanksgiving and best of luck on final exams!

We Won, You Won, We Should Have Won: UMass vs. UConn

Bri Repetto

Credit: Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Three Stars of the Game (Nov. 20):

  1. #20 Oliver Chau – Senior
  2. #31 Matt Murray – Senior
  3. #7 Cal Kiefiuk – Sophomore

Three Stars of the Game (Nov. 21):

  1. #4 Matthew Kessel – Sophomore
  2. #17 Philip Lagunov – Senior
  3. #20 Oliver Chau – Senior

Friday November 20 and Saturday November 21 featured exciting matchups between the UConn Huskies and your Massachusetts Minutemen. UMass had an excellent performance on Friday night, obliterating the Huskies with a 5-1 win. Saturday, on the other hand, was an unfortunate turn of events as they fell in a shootout. One interesting thing to note here is that the game is officially recorded as a tie, at least temporarily, and we won’t know if this changes for roughly a month.

Friday’s game was a struggle for most fans due to the fact that finding the game wasn’t as easy as it should have been. After what seemed to be an hour, I managed to access the game at 11 minutes into the second period when UMass held a 2-1 lead. Thankfully, I was able to rewatch it and see Cal Kiefiuk’s quick wrist shot to the left of UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka from a feed by freshman Josh Lopina. Speaking of Kiefiuk, the sophomore played an aggressive game, as he hammered the UConn goalie throughout the second and third with shot after shot. This is what makes UMass special compared to other teams: The Minutemen have this drive to them that keeps them going strong, period after period.       

UMass outshot UConn 41 to 21 with UMass goalie Matt Murray seeming like a wall in front of the net. During a 5 on 3 penalty kill, he had a tremendous glove save on a shot to the top corner. Then midway through the second period, he robbed UConn of a five-hole goal and secured UMass’s 2-1 lead. He definitely lives up to the title of best goalie in Hockey East with a career 91.9 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA.

Both Murray and Kiefiuk are known to be solid UMass players, but I would like to shed light on some of our newer Minutemen who really stepped up in their first games in the maroon and white sweater. Garrett Wait is a name to get familiar with, as the University of Minnesota transfer came through with a goal early in the second period. Wait threw the puck through the slot, breaking the 1-1 tie. He continued his strong play through the rest of the game, and like I said before, expect him to gain some traction this season. I predict he will be one of our top forwards and you’ll see a lot more shots from number 12 in the back of the net. 

Another newcomer to get a goal in his Hockey East debut was Oliver MacDonald. He saw some good scoring chances in the beginning of the second, and luckily for us, he kept shooting and managed to connect later into the third. MacDonald received the pass from alternate captain Bobby Trivingo and got a quick shot over Vomacka’s shoulder. 

Once the third goal was scored, it was as if a domino effect occurred, as we then saw two more big goals from defenseman Zac Jones and forward Oliver Chau. Jones is another key player for UMass, as he plays well on both ends of the ice, distributing the puck in the offensive zone and shutting down opportunities from opposing forwards. Early in the first, he caught a UConn forward off guard by spinning instead of passing the puck, managing to keep the puck in the zone and get a shot on net. Later in the period, Jones performed a well-executed sliding poke check on a huge UConn scoring chance. He saw some good scoring chances in the beginning of the second, and luckily for us, he kept shooting and managed to connect later into the third. Although we got some big performances in the 5-1 blowout, the next game was a bit of a different story.

Both UMass goals were scored in the first period, the first of which was by sophomore Matthew Kessel and assisted by Chau and Trivingo. I mentioned last year just how underappreciated Chau is. In Friday’s game, he put up the game-winning goal and an assist on the goal scored by Wait. He came onto the ice with a strong presence and did a really good job of making plays and creating quality scoring chances in front of the net. 

Kessel’s goal was again scored to the right of UConn goalie Vomacka during a power play. Trivingo also needs to be recognized for his two assists on Friday and another on Saturday, totaling three points in the series. In both games, Trivingo saw huge scoring chances with a breakaway in each game’s third period. Despite neither chance resulting in a goal, I feel like he’ll start to capitalize on these chances later in the season. 

The game, however, continued and unfortunately UConn scored twice in the third with goals by Turnbull and Rigoli. As the game began to wind down, we soon saw ourselves in OT playing 3 on 3. With 1:19 left, Collin Felix scored an absolute beauty of a goal right over Vomacka on a rebound in front of the net. The benches emptied, we celebrated, and then the refs decided to pull a fast one on us and quickly took back our goal due to an offsides they missed heading into the offensive zone. The players then headed back to their benches and OT concluded, pushing the game into a shootout. 

Personally, I love shootouts. I think they’re a great addition to the game – just not to my anxiety. After many attempts from both sides, Kale Howarth scored the game-winner for UConn. Like mentioned before, the only bright side to this is that the game goes into the books as a tie, and as of right now, was not counted by Hockey East. Therefore, we can technically be considered “undefeated” after two games. 

Offensively, there were missed chances that will be improved upon throughout the season. Defensively, Felix, Jones, Marc Del Gaizo, and Kessel really stood out with solid play. Filip Lindberg was in net on Saturday and made some great saves in the first that kept UMass’ two-goal lead, facing two big shots back-to-back that he blocked and covered. He then again faced two shots early in the second right in front of goal that he managed to keep out. 

Last but not least, honorable mention to the UConn broadcasting, as now I have their husky logo memorized in detail due to the fact that I saw more of it than the actual game. Also, they didn’t provide the penalty minutes on the screen, so you just had to hope the camera panned over to the scoreboard every once in a while so you could figure out how much longer the power plays were. In all fairness though, this is probably the first they have experienced anything like this due to COVID circumstances, so future games may not be so bad. I guess we will find out January 9 when we face the Huskies again in Storrs, CT.  

The next two games were set to be against Vermont on this Friday and Saturday, but those were replaced with two matchups against Boston College instead. Keep a look out for updates from our Twitter and Instagram pages, which are linked below. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the intro to the 2020-2021 UMass Hockey season. There is more to come, so sit back, jump, and yell at the TV as another great season is underway! GO UMASS!

Instagram: @umassmilitia

Twitter: @UMassMilitia

2020-21 UMass Hockey Season Preview

By: Bri Repetto

Welcome back all fans, students, and alum for the 2020-2021 University of Massachusetts hockey season! Fortunately for us, Hockey East is in play and we have a very exciting new team to bring home some victories.

We all understand that last season was tragically cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and in turn for this year, many guidelines and restrictions are being set forth to protect the players and fans. The downside to this is that fans are not permitted in the games, which means we still have some time before we can set foot into our beloved Mullins Center again. Instead of being there in person, you can pay $25 for a cutout of yourself to be placed in Mullins and seen by everyone watching at home!

Rest assured, though, we still have one of the best hockey teams in the country and 28 amazing games to come. This season will be unlike any other, as the Minutemen will face each team in back-to-back games as opposed to traveling from game-to-game.

With the addition of nine new players, we have a fresh new team this year. From the transition of last season to this one, we have lost seniors Niko Hildenbrand, Jake McLaughlin, and Jack Suter. We also lost two great forwards in Mitchell Chaffee and John Leonard as they begin their NHL careers – best of luck to both of them! For this season, Coach Carvel has added seven freshmen, including Linden Alger, Josh Lepina, Garrett Wait, Oliver MacDonald, Ryan Sullivan, Aaron Bonlinger, and Henry Graham. In addition, we have gained two transfers, a graduate student from St. Lawrence College in Carson Gicewicz, and a sophomore from Providence College in Jerry Harding. Carvel also named Jake Gaudet as captain and Marc Del Gaizo and Bobby Trivingo as alternate captains. 

The Hockey East rankings have been made, and low and behold, UMass ranks #2. On top of that, the Minutemen are ranked in the top 10 nationally as the seventh-best team. Over the past few years, UMass has done a great job of staying high in the ranks, as the finished second in Hockey East and ninth in the nation last year. Be sure to watch as your Minutemen hold on to this top spot and continue to take on rival teams like Boston College and UMass Lowell. Last year, we played Boston College three times with a 1-2 season record, and faced UMass Lowell twice with a 1-1 season tie. Moving forward, there is a great deal of potential for the Minutemen to improve on those win totals and further dominate in the standings.

Luckily for us, goalies Matt Murray and Filip Lindberg will once again protect the net for the Minutemen. Both players are placed as the top three goalies in all of Hockey East; Matt Murrary at #1 and Filip Lindberg at #3. Between their solid goaltending and impressive set of defenders and forwards, UMass is going to be a tough team to beat. On defense, we have strong players such as Marc Del Gaizo, Zac Jones, and Ty Farmer. We also have returning forwards such as Oliver Chau, Reed Lebester, and Bobby Trivigno to put pressure on opposing defenses.

If you want to keep up with UMass Hockey and cheer on your Minutemen (as you should), then be sure to watch them on NESNPLUS, NESN, and CBS Sports through CollegeSportsLive.com. Definitely be watching on December 26 and 27 as the Minutemen take on rival UMass Lowell, January 15 and 16 when the boys face Boston College back-to-back in a highly anticipated series, and against Northeastern on February 19 and 20.

Last season started off rough with the first of their matchups being a 1-3 loss, as it was only the second game of the season. However, UMass didn’t take that lightly and completely took control of the second matchup with a 6-3 win. I was there at Matthews Arena where Northeastern’s fans were hyped with an early 2-0 lead. UMass would then go on to score five straight goals from top goal scorers Bobby Trivingo and John Leonard, along with a pair of goals from freshmen Matthew Kessel and Reed Lebster. Even Northeastern fans were admiring the Minutemen’s ability to score as goal after goal kept adding up. Here I was waiting to get heat for cheering as we took the lead, and I was actually watching Northeastern fans jump on the UMass train instead. However, it became apparent that they were going to win the third game against Northeastern for the sheer fact that they already proved to be more talented than Northeastern. The Minutemen went on the next night to beat the Huskies once more at home with goals by John Leonard, Jermey Davidson, Jack Suter, and Mitchell Chaffee.

It was a shame that the Hockey East quarterfinals were canceled due to COVID because I’m sure those games against Northeastern would have been extremely intense. Along with the sheer talent of both teams, you add the pressure of a championship setting, and everyone is playing ten times harder. Do I believe UMass would have won out over the Huskies? Yes, I do. After seeing how far apart the goal differentials were, and knowing how each team played, I think UMass would have been the ones to advance. However, I think the games would have been tougher than what they faced in the regular season, and Northeastern would have definitely put up a strong fight. Tune in this season to see how we match up once more and if we can turn a loss a year ago against them into two wins.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Militia Hockey Blogs as the season continues. I am hoping to add more features to allow a better insight on all things UMass Hockey for the fans and to keep everyone connected during these hard times. Like I’ve stated many times, we have a great team heading into the season, and they are definitely a must watch as we approach the first game on Nov. 20 – which is against my home state’s flagship school, The University of Connecticut. With that being said, be safe everyone, be sure to follow along, and GO UMASS! 

UMass Sports Recap – End of October 

By: Freeman Alfano

Men’s Basketball

Katherine Mayo, The Daily Collegian

While the Massachusetts’ Men’s basketball season has not officially begun, the squad has already recorded a win this season. On Tuesday, the Minutemen defeated Western New England by a score of 83-47 as freshman guard TJ Weeks led the team with 18 points, including four makes from beyond the arc. While UMass started out slow in this one, the team consistently ramped up the pace throughout the game and let up just 18 points in the second half as they had more than double WNE’s points. 

Sy Chatman and top recruit Tre Mitchell added 13 points apiece in the blowout, with Chatman grabbing nine boards in the contest as well. Mitchell flashed his offensive versatility in this one, as he scored in multiple areas within the offense, including two threes. 

The only surprising disappointment during the team’s unofficial opener was the scoring impact on the game by Carl Pierre (or lack thereof). While the team’s leading scorer from last year had a team-high four steals, he had just five points on three shots during his 21 minutes of action. For the Minutemen offense to operate at its full potential, Pierre has to be an integral part of the attack night in and night out. 

Coach Matt McCall’s squad begins their season next Tuesday against UMass Lowell. Last season, the Minutemen defeated Lowell by a score of 83-75 as Pierre had a team-high 21 points. The game will be at 7:30 in the Mullins as part of the back-to-back night after Women’s Basketball.

Hockey

Umass.edu

Over the past few weeks, the UMass Minutemen have increased in the rankings by their hard game play and amazing three wins at home. However, they had one 3-1 loss away at Northeastern on Oct. 15. The Huskies had managed to get two goals during the first period. Then in the second, the Minutemen got on the board by a goal by Matthew Kessel from Jeremy Davidson to make the game 2-1. However, Northeastern’s Zach Solow ended the game 3-1 with an empty netter and unfortunately Northeastern managed to come out on top. 

The week after, the Minutemen gained two big wins over Union College, first a 6-1 victory followed by a huge shutout game, 5-0, the next night. In the first game against Union, it was a slow start with no goals in the first. However, the game picked up with a goal by Bobby Trivigno which he quickly added with an exciting power play goal to get the Minutemen up 2-0. The game intensified when Union got their only goal of the game and brought the score to 2-1. However, the Mullins Center fired up again when Reed Lebester closed the period by redirecting a shot from Zac Jones to get back UMass’s two goal lead. When going into the third, UMass got two back-to-back goals, one from John Leonard and another by Zac Jones bringing UMass way ahead of Union College, 5-1. To finish out the game, a great effort by Reed Lebester gave him his second goal of the night to give the Minutemen their 6-1 win. 

UMass faced Union College again the next night with strong hopes for a big victory. Finishing the game 5-0, they started off the first period with an electrifying goal by Anthony Del Gaizo, which was his first of the season. Also in the first, Cal Kiefiuk brought the score to 2-0 with a tip in from Zac Jones. About half-way through the second period, the Minutemen were given a power-play, during which Mitchell Chaffee scored his first of two goals on the night with a big drive to the net. Bobby Trivigno followed up his scoring from the night before with another goal to bring UMass up 4-0. By the end of the game, UMass greatly overpowered Union with an impressive 38-15 shots on goal margin. The 5-0 win also gave Filip Lindberg his fifth career shutout. 

The Minutemen then faced AIC the following week and increased their record to 3-1 with a huge 4-1 win at home. The Minutemen were quick to start the game with a goal by Anthony Del Gaizo in the first, but AIC managed to put themselves on the board with 50 seconds left in the period. The second period stretched on, as neither team could get a second goal in and UMass got the disadvantage of a five minute major, which became a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes. They played the penalty strong despite this and held off AIC from scoring. Even though UMass faced many penalty kills that caused them to have to undergo 17 minutes of penalty kill, they came out on top with two big goals from John Leonard, one being an empty netter, and a goal from Cal Kiefiuk, which ended the game 4-1. In net was Matt Murray, who made 15 saves for the night. UMass again dominated in shots 29-16 over AIC. 

Currently, the Minutemen have moved up in the rankings to the #3 spot with three wins and one loss. This weekend they take on #10 Northeastern away for the second time on Nov. 1 and then again the next night at home. Be there for puck drop at 8 pm on Nov. 2 to cheer them on! Go UMass!

By: Bri Repetto

Women’s Basketball

Eric Schelkun

Women’s Basketball also had a scrimmage earlier this week, as they defeated UMass Dartmouth by a score of 89-39. Sophomore guard Destiny Philoxy had a team-high 23 points to go with seven assists, and her and senior guard Vashnie Perry combined for an absurd 15 steals. The Minutewomen finished with a total of 27 steals (20 more than Dartmouth) as seven players recorded at least two swipes in the contest.

Perry also added 20 points of her own to go with four rebounds and six assists for a well-rounded game to prepare herself for her final season. Sydney Taylor and Paige McCormack also had double figures in this one, with McCormack finishing the contest with 11 rebounds, as well.

The Minutewomen will play the first of two basketball games at Mullins next Tuesday against Merrimack. Tip-off for the season opener is scheduled for 4:30 PM.

Field Hockey

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

After a small rough patch during the middle of the season, the Minutewomen Field Hockey team is back to firing on all cylinders. Now 9-8, the team has won five of its last six games as they try to make a late-season push and potentially make the A-10 Tournament next weekend.

The key to the Minutewomen’s late-season run has been their airtight defense. UMass has not given up more than two goals in a game in over a month and gave up two goals just twice during the month of October. 

One of the main contributors to this stretch has been captain Lucy Cooper. During the team’s three-game road winning streak, Cooper had a goal and three assists. She now has a team-high six goals and 17 points, the latter of which is five more than the next closest player. 

For the final home game of the season, the Minutewomen will face VCU on Friday afternoon for their Senior Night game. Following that is possibly the hardest matchup of the season in a road game against #3 UConn on Sunday, who has lost just once at home this year. Make sure to come out and support the Minutewomen at Gladchuk at 3 PM in what could be their last home game of the season.

Women’s Soccer

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

Like field hockey, the Minutewomen Soccer team had a stellar finish to their regular season. The team went 4-1-1 over their last six games and finished with an overall record of 9-5-3. 

Although the team lost their regular season finale against VCU, they exhibited their dominance in their last home game against LaSalle. In a 4-2 victory, freshman Serena Ahmed finished with a goal and an assist, including a beauty in the 64th minute under the crossbar, while junior Jenny Hipp added a pair of assists. 

One of the biggest factors for the Minutewomen’s success this season has been graduate goalkeeper Peyton Ryan. The nifty netminder has started all 17 games for UMass this season, posting an 8-4-3 record and just a 1.63 goals against average. 

Up ahead for the Minutemen Soccer team is their biggest test yet: a matchup with Fordham to start off the A-10 Soccer Championship on Sunday at Rudd. While Fordham finished the regular season five games below .500, the tournament certainly isn’t the time to start overlooking opponents. 

The winner of Sunday’s game will face either George Washington or Saint Joseph’s in the semifinals. Kickoff at Rudd is scheduled for 1 PM.

Football

Jon Krispin

While UMass displayed some of their promise in the Walt Bell Era a few weeks ago against Akron, the success from that game has not continued, especially on the defensive end. Since that energetic win, the Minutemen have let up 169 points over three games, including 69 to Louisiana Tech two weeks ago. The team’s porous run defense was the biggest contributor to the loss in that one, as 385 of Louisiana’s 689 total yards came on the ground – more than three times the number of yards rushing UMass had. 

However, the offense played one of its best games of the season against UConn, as their 35 points was the second-most they’ve scored this year. Bilal Ally, who now has over 1,000 career rushing yards at UMass, led the offensive charge with 159 yards on the ground a two touchdowns. Also contributing to the scoring output was receiver Jermaine Johnson, who had four catches for 92 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown reception. 

Another player who has continued to star in multiple phases of the game for the Minutemen is cornerback Isaiah Rodgers. Against Louisiana Tech, Rodgers had 187 total yards on kickoff returns, including a career-long 87 yard return. Rodgers has made a name for himself at this school with dynamic plays, and he’s been creating that at a consistent pace this season.

Up next for the Minutemen is a matchup with Liberty this Saturday at noon, who come in to this one with a 5-3 record. Last season, UMass won a high-scoring thriller against the Flames, as Cooper Garcia kicked the game-winning field goal in triple overtime to go out on top 62-59. We’ll be hoping for a game like that one tomorrow at McGuirk as Coach Bell looks to pick up his second win on the year.