College Hockey:
UMass holds on against UConn

Saunders' first collegiate goal the game-winner

— Third period goals from junior Scott Crowder and freshman Shawn Saunders, playing in his first career collegiate game, proved to be the difference as the UMass Minutemen defeated the UConn Huskies 4-3 on Saturday afternoon at the Mullins Center.

UMass and UConn (1-1-0) entered the final period tied at two, but the goals from Crowder and Saunders gave UMass a 4-2 lead. Crowder’s goal came at the 2:55 mark when he was able to put the rebound home on a shot from senior defenseman David Leaderer. Brian Keane also assisted on the goal. Saunders’ goal came at the 6:20 mark when he sent a shot from along the boards past UConn sophomore goalie Beau Erickson. The Minutemen took advantage of a delayed penalty, allowing a sixth skater on the ice. The goal was assisted by Crowder and senior P.J. Fenton.

UConn pulled within one though with just over 10 minutes remaining when freshman Andrew Olson was able to slip a shot past freshman goalie Paul Dainton, with assists from sophomore Joe Walchessen and freshman Justin Hernandez. The UMass defense managed to hang on in the final minutes, despite UConn pulling Erickson in favor of an extra attacker with 1:26 remaining.

UConn took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with a power play goal from Olson assisted by Hernandez and sophomore Chris Ochoa. The Minutemen were unable to get on the scoreboard in the frame despite outshooting UConn 11-4.

UMass kept shooting though, and were able to break through for two goals in the second period. Just 1:29 in, senior Matt Burto banged home a power play goal on a pass from freshman James Marcou and Fenton to tie the game at one.

Near the midway point of the period, sophomore Will Ortiz gave the Minutemen their first lead of the game after he took a pass from junior John Wessbecker in the UMass defensive zone and weaved his way through the UConn defense to beat Erickson stick side. UConn evened the game at two though less than two minutes later on a goal from Ochoa assisted by freshman Jarrett Costello and Coppola.

Dainton earned his first career win between the pipes, making 20 saves. Erickson finished with 33 saves.

With Burto, Crowder, Ortiz, and Saunders scoring today, 10 different Minutemen have scored the team’s 10 goals this season.

The Minutemen are now 2-1-1 on the season and will face Providence next Friday and Saturday in a home-and-home series. With four goals on the day, UMass improves to 35-0-1 in games where they score 4 or more goals over the last 36 games dating back to 2003.

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