UVM strikes in OT to force Game 3

For the Recorder
Friday, March 02, 2018

AMHERST — UMass fans were still trickling back in to the arena from the Mullins Center’s concessions and the restrooms when they were forced to abruptly turn around.

Vermont scored 12 seconds into overtime to beat the Minutemen, 4-3, silencing the home crowd of 5,778.

With the teams at four-on-four to start the extra session, Vermont won the faceoff and jumped onto the attack. Ross Colton fed Cory Thomas whose shot eluded Matt Murray. The teams will play a deciding Game 3, Sunday at 3 p.m.

UMass coach Greg Carvel didn’t sugarcoat his frustration with his team’s effort.

“That goal was four guys not ready to compete and take care of the checking and do the things you’re supposed to do without the puck. All four guys on the ice. Give Vermont credit. That was a great job. That’s inexcusable, 12 seconds in.”

Carvel was as angry that his team couldn’t hold a third-period lead. The Minutemen grabbed their first regulation lead of the series 19 seconds into the final frame. Austin Albrecht’s initial shot caromed off of Stefanos Lekkas. Albrecht batted the rebound out of the air like a cricket player into the goal to make it 3-2.

With it’s season on the line, Rob Darrar collected the puck out of the right corner and beat Murray from a tough angle with 11:55 left to make it 3-3. Neither team scored again in regulation.

“To take the lead in the first shift of the third period, we should have shut that game down. That game should have been over,” Carvel said. “We had three penalties. We had turnovers on the break out. We put pucks directly on their stick. Inexcusable. The game should have been over. We’re a good hockey team in this building. We shut out Providence. We shutout Northeastern. We shut out Lowell. We should be able to shut out the ninth-place team with a one-goal lead in the third period.”

He expected a better effort Sunday.

“We weren’t ready to match their desperation. You have to when a team is on the brink of their season ending. Now our team is on the brink of our season ending,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in this team. I fully expect we’ll be pretty well prepared mentally to play our best game of the year on Sunday.”

Following the early portion of Thursday’s script, Vermont scored the only goal of the first period. On a break-in, Colton one-timed a Rob Darrar pass from the right-wing faceoff circle past Matt Murray with 8:56 left in the first. They doubled that edge when Matt Alvaro beat Murray on a break-in, 5:33 into the second period giving UMass its second 2-0 deficit in as many nights.

The Minutemen got one back quickly. Breaking in on the left wing on a two-on-one, Austin Plevy tapped his stick on the ice to tell Jack Suter, he wanted the puck. The sophomore center obliged and Plevy threaded his shot through a small hole between Lekkas’ blocker and the left post to make it 2-1 with 12:31 left in the second. UMass had been peppering Lekkas for a while before solving him for the tying goal. Mitchell Chaffee snared a failed clear and snapped it past the goalie in traffic with 1:33 left in the second period setting up the back and forth finish. Carvel was eager to see how his team would react.

“I wanted to win tonight. I’m not that upset that we have a third game. I want to see these young guys grow up. They played young tonight,” he said. “I’m excited to see who is going to step up in an elimination game.”

NOTES: Vermont was without senior Jarrid Privitera, who received a one-game suspension for spearing Cale Makar, Thursday.