Senior forward Branden Gracel scores two goals for Minutemen

Senior forward Branden Gracel scored two goals for the Minutemen

AMHERST, Mass. - UMass hockey team scored twice in the second period and rolled to a 3-1 win over Michigan State in front of a crowd of 7,078 at the Mullins Center on Friday night, the 2013-14 home opener for the Minutemen. Following the victory, UMass improves to 1-2-0 on the year, while the Spartans fall to 0-1-0.

Senior Branden Gracel logged his third career multi-goal game and 15th career multi-point game with a pair of tallies in the victory for the Minutemen. Senior Joel Hanley chipped in a pair of assists for his 13th career multi-point game. Classmate Colin Shea recorded his third helper in three games to start the year, while sophomore transfer Ben Gallacher notched an assist for his first point in a UMass uniform.

Sophomore Shane Walsh and senior Michael Pereira rounded out the scoring for the Minutemen with a goal and an assist, respectively.

After a scoreless first that saw Michigan State out-shoot UMass, 15-10, the Minutemen capitalized on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Ryan Kelleher early in the second. Just eight seconds into the power play, Gracel knocked in the first tally of the night at the back post off a feed from Hanley and Gallacher on the perimiter 3:26 into the stanza.

Then with the frame coming to a close, UMass increased its lead to 2-0 with the squad's first even strength goal of the year. Shea caused a turnover at the Spartans' blueline, leading to Walsh burying the puck from the slot at the 15:50 mark.

Michigan State cut the deficit back to one with an odd-man rush goal by Greg Wolfe 12:43 into the third with Lee Reimer earning an assist on the play.

Gracel iced the victory for the Minutemen, though, with an empty net goal from Pereira and Hanley at the 19:16 mark.

Junior Steve Mastalerz made 31 saves en route to the win in net for UMass, while Jake Hildebrand had 32 stops for the Spartans.

The Minutemen finished with a 35-32 edge in shots and went 1-for-5 on the power play, while limiting Michigan State to a 0-for-3 night with the man advantage.

UMass will square off against the Spartans tomorrow night, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.