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Farmer’s late goal lifts No. 9 UMass over No. 4 Providence

  • UMass defenseman Mario Ferraro, right, and Jake Gaudet, center, celebrate with goalie Matt Murray after the Minutemen beat Providence, 3-2, Thursday at the Mullins Center. CAROLINE O’CONNOR PHOTO

  • UMass’ Ty Farmer, right, high-fives goaltender Matt Murray after scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period against Providence, Thursday at the Mullins Center. CAROLINE O’CONNOR PHOTO

  • UMass goaltender Matt Murray center, makes a glove save against Providence, Thursday at the Mullins Center. CAROLINE O’CONNOR PHOTO



Staff Writer
Friday, November 09, 2018

AMHERST — For the first time this season, UMass brought its late-game heroics to its home crowd.

Twice on the road already this year, the Minutemen pulled out tight games with critical goals in the final five minutes of the third period. On Thursday, No. 4 Providence charged back from an early two-goal deficit and kept the more than 6,000 fans jammed into Mullins Center on the edge of their seats.

Freshman defenseman Ty Farmer released that pent-up energy with a wrist shot from the point that flew over Hayden Hawkey’s right shoulder and gave No. 9 UMass a 3-2 win on home ice.

“There’s been a confidence throughout the team since day one, since everybody stepped onto campus,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “They have a confidence about them that they know they’re a good team. … I like the fact that my team, they don’t get rattled, they just play consistently.”

Farmer’s goal punctuated a very impressive turnaround for the Minutemen in the final 12 minutes of the game. After the Friars tied the game on a power-play goal, UMass (7-1-0, 4-0-0 Hockey East) played with the burst of energy that gave it a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. The Minutemen were able to sustain more possession in the attacking zone and tested Hawkey with more quality chances.

“We talked about after the second period that if we get the puck, it needs to get to the net as soon as possible,” Carvel said. “Providence was doing a good job clogging up the net, so Ty did a great job. He got it off his stick real quick and (we had) great net presence.”

The situation looked bleak for UMass for most of the final two periods as Providence (5-2-1, 2-1-0 HEA) came out energized after the first intermission. UMass goalie Matt Murray matched the initial surge by fighting off deflected shots and squaring up the shots that got to him cleanly. The Minutemen did their part in front of him, too, and found ways to knock away passes and loose pucks to less dangerous spots.

But the Friars scored in the middle of the second period on the power play as Jacob Bryson cleanly beat Murray off the faceoff. The power play that led to Providence’s game-tying goal came after Brett Boeing left the penalty box a second early and UMass was whistled for too many men on the ice.

Murray made 21 of his 29 saves in the final two periods as the Friars dominated possession and kept the puck in the offensive zone. Providence took shots from almost every angle, trying to create that one rebound it could jam home, but the sophomore netminder was up to the task.

“You always have to be ready,” Murray said. “They’re going to throw pucks from odd angles and they’re really good at getting pucks to the front.”

Murray’s biggest save came with about three minutes left when Jason O’Neill came barreling down on a breakaway against the sophomore. O’Neill tried to wait out Murray, but the goalie kept his cool and stopped the shot with ease to preserve the 2-2 tie.

“A guy coming in with that type of speed and that much pressure on his back side, quite often it’s going to be a shot,” Murray said. “I was just making sure I was in line with his stick and just getting in front of the puck. Obviously, it was a key save, but it’s just a save, just like all the other ones were.”

UMass came out as the hungrier team and took advantage of an early miscue by the Friars. Vimal Sukumaran was called for a roughing penalty after delivering a late hit on Bobby Trivigno following an icing call. It didn’t take long for the Minutemen to capitalize, as Marc Del Gaizo snuck down on the backside and slammed home the feed from Jacob Pritchard.

John Leonard doubled the UMass advantage midway through the period after Boeing rocketed a clearing pass off the glass in the defensive zone. The puck skipped perfectly into Leonard’s path for a breakaway chance and the Amherst native deposited the puck between Hawkey’s pads with a backhand.

“I was just trying to skate as fast as I could toward it,” Leonard said. “Bo had a good chip, and Niko (Hildenbrand) and I actually got switched up on the wings there. I got a good bounce and I got a step on the defender, and it was lucky enough to go in.

The two teams meet in Providence Saturday night at 7 in a game televised on NBC Sports Boston.