Game Summaries: Vermont (3/1, 3/2, 3/4)

UMass Dominates Vermont in Game 3, Headed to Quarterfinals

The Massachusetts hockey team opened up their Hockey East playoff round against the Vermont Catamounts this weekend, where a decisive 5-1 victory in game three sent the Minutemen to quarterfinals against No. 2 Northeastern, set for this weekend.

In Thursday’s game one, Vermont took an early 2-0 lead, thanks to a power play goal by Jake Massie about five minutes into the second period. However, UMass did not back down, and it went on the attack, drawing five powerplays after Vermont’s second goal. This lead to two powerplay goals, by freshmen John Leonard and Cale Makar.

This lead the game into overtime where it was back-and-forth action until Philip Lagunov beat goaltender Stefanos Lekkas with just three seconds remaining in the overtime period. Much to the dismay of the crowd, the goal was initially ruled off on the ice, as the officials claimed the net became dislodged before the goal, but that call was overturned, leading to an explosion from the crowd and a 1-0 series lead for the Minutemen.

The next night, UMass had a chance to finish off the Catamounts, and in another close match, the teams found that 60 minutes was not enough as they went to overtime for the second night in a row. However, the crowd did not wait long on Friday, as Vermont beat Matt Murray just 12 seconds into the extra frame and the Catamounts lived to play another game on Sunday.

Headed into Sunday’s decisive game three, coach Greg Carvel made a surprising call to some to bench Matt Murray and start sophomore Ryan Wischow. Despite Murray being red-hot for the last few weeks of the season, he really struggled in Friday’s game two, allowing four goals on just 23 shots, while Lekkas played exceptionally, stopping 36 of 39 shots from the Minutemen.

In terms of goalie performance, game three was a complete change of pace from game two. Lekkas had a tough afternoon, allowing five goals on just 30 shots, while Wischow stood tall, stopping 29 of 30 shots. Game three’s exclamation point win gives UMass lots of momentum headed into their quarterfinal series against Vermont. The Minutemen pounced on the Catamounts early and never let up, scoring their fourth goal just a bit after the halfway point in the game to cap of a great team win to propel them to the next round of the playoffs.

Looking ahead, UMass will play all of their quarterfinal games a Northeastern, beginning on Friday, March 9 and continuing to Saturday March 10. Game three will take place the next day, if necessary. All games will be played at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.

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