UMass hockey: Minutemen get back on track, edge Merrimack 4-3 in Hockey East action

Dans Locmelis and the UMass hockey team captured a 4-3 win over Merrimack on Friday night.

Dans Locmelis and the UMass hockey team captured a 4-3 win over Merrimack on Friday night. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-12-2024 10:33 PM

Modified: 01-12-2024 10:33 PM


The UMass hockey team snapped a three-game winless stretch as the Minutemen defeated Merrimack 4-3 in a Hockey East matchup on their home ice Friday night at the Mullins Center.

Two ties and an overtime loss were the previous three results for UMass, which entered Friday’s contest ranked 13th in the country. That would change against the Warriors thanks to four different goal scorers.

Dans Locmelis and Mihael Hrabal returned to the Minutemen lineup after successful trips to Sweden for the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championships, and both made immediate impacts.

Locmelis added a goal in the second period to put UMass ahead 3-1, and Hrabal made 31 saves on 34 shots to earn a win in his first game in nearly a month. 

Jack Musa got the scoring started in the first period with less than six minutes to go, with Owen Murray and Aydar Suniev picking up assists. The Minutemen surrendered a goal to Merrimack’s Matt Copponi in the first minute of the second period to knot the game up at one, which kick-started a four-goal frame.

Ryan Lautenback (assist Cam O’Neill) and Locmelis (assist Suniev) tallied the next two to put UMass in the driver’s seat up 3-1 at the midway point of the period.

But the Warriors’ Ben Brar responded with a power-play goal (the last score of the period) to cut the Merrimack deficit in half just a couple minutes after Locmelis found the back of the net. 

Early in the third, Ryan Ufko added a power-play goal of his own. Suniev picked up his third assist on the night, and Musa tacked on an assist to tally his second point of the game. 

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Merrimack added a goal off the stick of Alex Jeffries with a little over eight minutes remaining, but UMass hung on to its one-goal lead the rest of the way.

UMass (12-5-3) visits Merrimack Saturday night to complete the weekend home-and-home series between the two Hockey East foes. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.