AMHERST, Mass. - The No. 20 UMass hockey team exploded on Saturday night in the Mullins Center for a 5-1 win over Merrimack thanks in part to a pair of goals from freshman Mike Lecomte. The Minutemen used a big three-goal second period to cruise to their first Hockey East win of the season, improving to 3-2-2 overall and 1-1-2 in the league. Chris Davis and James Marcou each added a pair of assists on the night as UMass won its eighth straight home game against Merrimack.
The Minutemen will return to action next Friday at Boston University (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday at UMass Lowell (7 p.m.).
Will Ortiz (Framingham, Mass.), Alex Berry (Danvers, Mass.), and Matt Burto (Branford, Conn.) also scored on the night for UMass which is now 36-0-1 in the last 37 games where the Minutemen score four-or-more goals.
Netminder Paul Dainton (Fort McMurray, Alberta) earned his second win of the season improving to 2-2-2 after making 22 saves.
Lecomte (St. Hyacinthe, Quebec) became the first Minuteman to score multiple goals in a game this season when he notched his second of the game in the third period giving UMass a 5-0 lead just 6:05 into the frame. The goal was assisted by Justin Braun (Vadnais Heights, Minn.) and Marcou (Kings Park, NY).
The Warriors tallied their first goal of the game 14 seconds later when Rob Ricci (Brampton, Ontario) took a feed from Chris Barton (Calgary, Alberta) and Matt Jones (Kentwood, Mich.) connected after winning the face-off following Lecomte's goal.
Lecomte put UMass up 1-0 at the 7:13 mark in the first period on a wrist shot from the right face-off circle. James Marcou forced a turnover in the neutral zone and fed the puck to Lecomte who beat goaltender Andrew Braithwaite (Kingston, Ont.) to the top right post.
In the second period, Ortiz added insurance. He poked home a loose rebound just outside of the right post for UMass' second goal at the 6:48 mark of the second period. Justin Braun set the play up with hard shot from the point that was deflected in front of Chris Davis who tried to bang home the loose puck. His shot was deflected away by Braithwaite, but Ortiz was there to capitalize for his team-leading third goal of the season.
Alex Berry notched a short-handed goal almost six-minutes later after eluding a defender between the face-off circles and sending a shot to the top right corner for his second goal of the season. Davis set the play up when he collected a loose puck around center ice and fed it ahead to Berry. It was Berry's first career short-handed goal and UMass' second of the season.
The Minutemen capped the period with a score from Burto - his third of the season. He fired a tough angle shot from just above the goal line. The puck slipped through a crowd of skaters giving the Minutemen a 4-0 lead with 13 seconds remaining in the period.
Dainton finished with 22 saves while Brathwaite had 30 for Merrimack. UMass outshot Merrimack 35-23. Merrimack failed to convert on any of their six power play opportunities, while UMass went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.