Led by Cale Makar, Minutemen rout in 1st period
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst men’s ice hockey team opened their season Friday night vs RPI. Expectations in Amherst are high this year due to only losing 2 seniors from last season’s 8th place squad, but mainly because of who they didn’t lose. Sophomore Cale Makar put his NHL dreams on hold to return for his 2nd year in Amherst. RPI probably wishes he didn’t. The Colorado Avalanche pick (4th overall in 2017) had 4 points last night in a 6-1 drubbing of the Engineers. Makar assisted on the team’s first 2 goals, both on the power play. The first, which came on a 5 on 3, was a cross ice pass from the low circle to senior Jacob Pritchard in the high slot, who wristed the puck past RPI goalie Linden Marshall @ 11:03. The second followed just :67 later when freshman Marc Del Gaizo slammed home a rebound for his first career goal. RPI would pull to within one after freshman Jakub Lacka poked home a lose puck in front of UMass goalie Matt Murray. Sophomore Mitchell Chaffee scored UMass’ 3rd PPG @ 19:04 to put the Minutemen up 3-1 as the 1st period was winding down. The Engineers must have felt like the game was over never mind the period. However Makar caught them sleepwalking into the intermission to all but slam the door on the UMass home opener. He picked up a lose puck around the redline and split the RPI defensemen, walked in on Mitchell and lifted the 4th goal past the RPI keeper, all while being interfered with by back-checking defender.
The teams were pretty evenly matched up through out the evening. The Engineers won the face-off battle 34-28, but the Minutemen controlled the play. The scoring chances that RPI had were average at best, Murray was up to it nonetheless. RPI did manage to get one past him in the 1st, when senior Brady Wiffen hit the crossbar. Each team had 7 penalties called during the game. UMass took full advantage of that going 4 of 7, while RPI was just 1 for 7.
Murray would go on to stop 16 more RPI shots over he next two periods. UMass would notch another PPG in the 2nd when freshman Ty Farmer would jam it in from a scrum in the crease @ 14:15. Makar would add his second goal off the night in the 3rd period when he cheated in from the point to put one past back-up goalie, freshman Owen Savory. 6-1 Minutemen was how this one would end.
UMass wasn’t all Makar, as Del Gaizo, Pritchard, sophomores John Leonard, and Mitchell Chaffee all had solid performances. Unfortunately for RPI there were few bright spots. Savory played well in relief of Marshall between the pipes. The Engineers will struggle this season, as last night showed. Their play was sloppy, too many penalties, and their missed opportunities seemed show a lack of being on the same page.
UMass outshot RPI 37-28. The 4157 in attendance were treated to an offensive explosion. The two teams square off again tonight in Troy, NY at RPI’s Houston Fieldhouse at 7:00pm.