HANOVER, N.H. — Massachusetts defeated Army, 4-1, Monday afternoon in the consolation game of the Dartmouth Ledyard National Bank Classic.
UMass freshman center Casey Wellman scored the game winning goal for the Minutemen and assisted on both of junior winger Will Ortiz’ tallies. Army struggled to create offense beyond of its transition game; UMass junior goaltender Dan Meyers stopped 14 of the 15 shots he saw from the Black Knights.
“It was a pretty efficient effort from everyone from start to finish,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We moved the puck fairly well. We got timely goaltending. We might have outchanced [Army] considerably, but they had a couple of greats scoring chances.”
While Army failed to test Meyers consistently, it did have several quality scoring chances. Down two goals midway through the second period, Army defenseman Bill Day fired a shot that deflected off Meyers right pad into the slot. Freshman center Mike Hill slapped the puck toward the vacated right side of the net, but Meyers quickly slid over and kicked the puck into the corner.
Minutes later, UMass’ top line, playing without typical left wing Alex Berry due to a disqualification stemming from a game misconduct Sunday afternoon, made it 3-0 on James Marcou’s team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Without Berry, UMass coach Don Cahoon shifted senior winger Chris Davis from second line right wing to the first and slid Marcou to the left side. The move opened a spot for Ortiz who hasn’t been a regular in Cahoon’s lineups much this season.
“With Berry out of the lineup, Will got put on our line. He played great tonight,” Wellman said. “He made things pretty easy for us, or for me at least.
“We got some chemistry going, which we really needed, and put some goals in the net.”
Wellman gave UMass a 1-0 lead at 7 minutes, 50 seconds of the first period, flipping a rebound from his own deflection over the left pad of Army goaltender John Kassel. He and Ortiz teamed for two goals later in the game; the first came at 8:07 of the second period.
Ortiz picked a loose puck off the boards at the blue line, found Wellman at the halfwall and headed for the net. Three Army defenders surrounded him, but Wellman threaded the pass through the thong and found Ortiz at the goalmouth. Kassel was slow to react to the pass, and Ortiz slid the puck into the net to give UMass a 3-0 lead.
The duo connected again early in the third period, ending any hopes of a rally for the Black Knights.
Army tried to transition quickly into its own zone but turned the puck over near the blue line. Ortiz picked up a loose puck, quickly firing to Wellman then darted for center ice when Wellman picked up the puck. Again, the Black Knights surrounded Ortiz, but Wellman managed to find a seam between defensemen Scott Warner and Marcel Alvarez.
Ortiz moved in alone on Kassel and beat him with a wrist shot to his stick side.
“Everyday we harp on the little things; playing positionally sound. That’s what happened on my second goal. I was off the boards, third man high, and I was able to get the puck. It was a nice give-and-go between me and Wellman,” Ortiz said.
Army’s goal came at the 9:41 mark of the third period during a UMass power play. Cody Omilusik and Joey Ammon skated in on Meyers and perfectly executed the 2-on-1 with Omilusik lifting his shot past Meyers.
The Minutemen are off until next Sunday when they welcome No. 10 Cornell to the Mullins Center. Army, meanwhile, is heading to Columbus, Ohio, for the Ohio State Tournament. The Black Knights open with the host Buckeyes; Clarkson and No. 2 Miami fill out the four-team bracket.