No. 4 UMass Holds Off RPI in Season Opener

No. 4 UMass Holds Off RPI in Season Opener

AMHERST, Mass. - Junior Mitchell Chaffee scored two goals and added an assist to lead the fourth-ranked University of Massachusetts men's hockey team to a 5-3 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), on Friday night at Mullins Center. With the win, the Minutemen open the season at 1-0, while the Engineers are 0-1.

RPI opened the scoring late in the first period, when senior captain Will Reilly (Toronto, ON/Nanaimo Clippers) forced a turnover in the offensive zone and found freshman Zach Dubinsky (Highland Park, IL/Lincoln Stars) open in the left circle for his first collegiate tally. The Engineers took their 1-0 lead into the break, along with a 12-9 edge in shots.

Freshman Cal Kiefiuk (Macomb, MI/Central Illinois Flying Aces) scored on a break away at 2:11 of the second to tie the game at 1-1. The unassisted tally was the first of his collegiate career.

Chaffee (Rockford, MI/Fargo Force) then gave the hosts the lead for good at 10:48 of the middle stanza, taking a feed from freshman Zac Jones (Glen Allen, VA/Tri City Storm) and ripping home his first of two goals on the night. 

Jones then pushed the Minutemen lead to 3-1, just over a minute later, netting his first NCAA goal on the power play. Chaffee delivered the pass back to the trailing blueliner, who fired a shot off the crossbar and into the net.

The Engineers then came back twice to draw within a goal, including a tally from senior Patrick Polino (Buffalo, NY/Lincoln Stars) at 3:56 of the third. Finding some room in the middle of the slot, he slid a low shot past UMass sophomore goaltender Filip Lindberg (Espoo, Finland/Tuto Hockey U20) for his first of the season.

UMass answered 17 seconds later, as freshman Reed Lebster (Grand Rapids, MI/Des Moines Buccaneers) buried a one-timer from the left circle after receiving a cross-ice pass from Kiefiuk.

RPI freshman Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON/Brooks Bandits) brought the visitors back to within a goal at 8:12 of the final frame, when he picked out the top right corner of the net from the low left circle. Senior Mike Gornall (Irwin, PA/Topeka Roadrunners) and freshman Tristan Ashbrook (Mantistique, MI/Lincoln Stars) earned the helpers on Mahshie's first collegiate goal.

The Minutemen put the game away with an empty-netter at 18:44, with Chaffee scoring from inside his own blue line.

Lindberg finished with 20 saves to earn the victory, while RPI sophomore Owen Savory (Cambridge, ON/St. Catharines Falcons) had 34 stops at the other end of the ice, including 16 in the second period alone.

RPI is back in action tomorrow afternoon, when it travels to Hartford, Conn., to take on UConn (3:35pm). UMass returns to the ice on Tuesday at No. 15 Northeastern (7pm).