Five different first-year men’s hockey players found the back of the net against UMass Amherst last Saturday night, scoring four goals in an explosive first period that boosted them to a 7-4 victory. Although the team was blanked 0-3 Friday night, they hit their offensive stride and got production from younger players to split the weekend series with the Minutemen.
Colorado College dominated play in the first period of the game on Friday night, outshooting UMass 12-4. Despite dictating play for most of the game, CC took a penalty that resulted in a goal 11:03 into the second period.
The Tigers outshot UMass 31-18 in the game, and 14-4 in the third period. Despite their commanding lead in shots, they couldn’t stop UMass from getting on the board two more times in the third period. Despite letting in three goals, first-year goalkeeper Alex Leclerc had a solid performance in his collegiate debut, turning aside 15 shots in total.
CC’s Achilles heel in the game was their inability to convert on the power play. Despite rifling off 15 of their shots over the course of nine man advantages, they were unable to get any past first-year UMass netminder Ryan Wischow.
The Tigers’ stymied offense found its stride on Sunday night in an onslaught of goals, five of which were career firsts for the team’s youngest players.
First-year forward Branden Makara got CC on the board a minute into the contest, taking a drop pass from sophomore forward Trey Bradley and beating Wischow. Fellow first-year defenseman Kristian Blumenschein added a tally before Makara scored another goal, assisted by Bradley and Blumenschein. Although senior forward Steven Iacobellis managed to get the puck by Leclerc in the first period, the Tigers cushioned their lead with a power-play goal by first-year defenseman Cole Josefchak. Saturday’s four-goal period marked the first time in over two years that the Tigers have matched that offensive output in a period.
Despite CC adding another tally in the second period that drove Wischow from the net in favor of sophomore goalie Nic Renyard, the Minutemen looked like they were creeping back into the contest when they scored two goals to bring the score to 5-3. The first goal of the third period by first-year UMass forward Jonny Lazarus brought the score to within one with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Instead of crippling under the mounting pressure, CC fought to remain collected and focused. First-year forward Alex Berardinelli turned a blocked shot into the decisive goal CC would need at the other end of the ice. Sophomore forward Westin Michaud, who missed the entirety of last season with an injury, put the final nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal, the first of his career. Leclerc stopped 14 shots in his first career victory.
The Tigers will host the 8th-ranked UMass-Lowell River Hawks tonight at 7:37 p.m. and tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m. Both games will be played at the Broadmoor World arena.