By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
Following a loss at Northeastern University the previous weekend, the 10th ranked Providence College Men’s Hockey Team had a chance to move themselves up in the Hockey East standings this weekend as they faced off against the 8th ranked University of Massachusetts Amherst Minutemen.
Last year, all three matchups with UMass finished with a final score of 3-2 with UMass taking two. The Friars’ lone win came at home against the then top-ranked Minutemen. The two had a chance to meet in the National Championship game in Buffalo, but the Friars fell to Minnesota Duluth University, who would go on to knock off UMass.
This year, the two teams would only meet twice, and both meetings took place this past weekend. Coming into Friday’s game at the Mullins Center. UMass was tied with Boston College for first place in the conference. The Friars were in a four-way tie for fourth place, just two points off of first place.
The Friars have struggled over the years playing at Amherst. Before Friday’s game, PC had a 16-15-5 record and had lost three straight games playing at UMass. On Friday, it was no different. UMass outshot PC 17-3 in the first period which featured a goal by Reed Lebster just 5:35 in. The Friars struggled to generate offense for most of this game.
The Friars, who average just under 35 shots per game, were held to just 15 shots while UMass recorded 36 shots. Michael Lackey GS made a series of highlight reel saves in the second period to keep the game at a one-goal deficit, but the Minutemen were too much. Matt Koopman ’21 would score the lone point for the Friars. UMass would go on to win 3-1, although Lackey had one of his best games in a Friar uniform with 33 saves and kept the game closer than what it could have been. Greg Carvel, the UMass head coach said after the game, “That’s as solid a game as we’ve played in this building probably since I’ve been here.”
Each team resumed their matchup the next evening in Providence where the Friars were seeking to split the series. The Friars came out firing with an early power play opportunity just 35 seconds into the game. Tyce Thompson ‘22 smashed a line drive off the post, sending a booming echo throughout the arena. However, a goal by John Leonard put UMass ahead 1-0 after the first period. In the second period, the Friars were only able to muscle two shots on goal, while Leonard struck again for UMass with a short-handed goal. In the remaining minutes of the second period, Oliver Chau recorded a goal on a hustle play, putting the game seemingly out of the Friars’ reach. However, PC made a push halfway through the third period, as Thompson netted his 18th goal of the season on a Jack Dugan ‘22 assist.
Shortly after the goal, the Friars had another chance to gain some momentum on a power play opportunity, but UMass soon shut the door on the Friars with two more goals. Leonard completed the hat-trick for UMass and his four-point night led UMass to a 5-1 victory. The Friars once again did not take advantage of their opportunities, as they went 1-6 on the power play. “It’ll change when we get sick of losing,” said coach Nate Leaman after the game. “We’re a really young group and we’re playing like it.” PC will look to rebound Friday against the University of Vermont.