The opening faceoff was all UConn would win in its trip to Hockey East rival No. 2 UMass Thursday night. The 3-0 loss leaves the Huskies eliminated from postseason play as they trail UMaine eight points in the standings with just three games left on the schedule.
Even though the Huskies won the battle in the trenches, finishing with a 34-21 advantage in faceoffs and going 0-3 on the power play (with UMass going 2-4) did not help any offensive game plan UConn had. The first two goals came while the Minutemen were on the power play and throwing lots of pucks on net. Just after the first period UMass held an 18-4 shot advantage.
Freshman goaltender Tomas Vomacka surrendered his second loss since taking the starting job following the Feb. 1 loss to BC. Vomacka turned away a career-high 33 shots in the losing effort while his counterpart, Matt Murray, stopped 21 UConn shots in his first shutout of the season. The Huskies now sit at 10-19-2 and 5-14-2 in conference action.
UMass (23-6, 16-4 Hockey East) beat Vomacka for the first time at 10:53 in the first period. Playing a man up thanks to a Roman Kinal holding penalty, sophomore forward John Leonard scored his 13th goal of the season to put UMass up 1-0. Cale Makar and Mitchell Chaffee assisted on the play.
Adam Karashik did not sit in the penalty box after being called for interference for very long. As soon as the Minutemen went on the man advantage, they doubled their lead. Sophomore defenseman Mario Ferraro found himself with his first score of the season at the 14:12 mark, with assists from Ty Farmer and Brett Boeing.
With under five minutes to play, head coach Mike Cavanaugh decided to pull Vomacka, in favor of an extra skater, but to no avail. The Huskies did not put up a shot before UMass could extend their lead with a Marc Del Gaizo empty-net goal. It was the freshman defenseman’s 12th goal on the season. It was the first time since January the Huskies shut out in back-to-back games and the sixth-time shutout this season.
UMass now controls the season series, 2-0, and will go for the sweep when the two teams face-off on Friday, March 8, in the last regular season game of 2019.
Before then, UConn plays host to Providence next Tuesday, followed by Vermont on March 1.
Kevin Arnold is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.