Oliver Chau wills No. 4 UMass past No. 18 Princeton in overtime Article by Liam Flaherty & Photos by Caroline O'Connor

In a back and forth affair between Massachusetts and Princeton at the Mullins Center on Saturday night, No. 4 UMass dug deep late in the action and secured a crucial overtime win.

After Bobby Kaiser and Cale Makar built a two-goal lead in the first, the Minutemen (11-1-0, 6-0-0 Hockey East Association) saw the No. 18 Tigers claw back into contention in the second.

With things still tied at the end of regulation, UMass looked to the net-front desperation of Oliver Chau in overtime, who slammed home a timely pass for his first goal of the season.

“We deserved to win tonight,” Minuteman coach Greg Carvel said. “It came out harder than we wanted it to. Special teams didn’t win us the game, but they did what they're supposed to and that’s as good of 60 minutes that we’ve played this year, so I’m very happy with the victory.”

After nearly 19 minutes of scoreless play, the Minutemen jumped on the board late in the first.

Bobby Kaiser, Cale Makar, Chau each found the net in top-20 victory

Kaiser got things going when he weaved out of the UMass zone and forced a Princeton skater to fall down. In one motion, the freshman crossed the blue line and unleashed a quick wrister.

Through a slew of Tiger defenseman and moving sticks, Kaiser found the mesh for a 1-0 lead.

“We don’t expect Kaiser to score, so when he does score it’s a bonus,” Carvel said. “We expect him to be a big body out there and help to build momentum with his checks, but he’s got a big shot. He's given us a little more than we’ve expected and that’s a huge bonus.”

Just 26 seconds after Kaiser’s second of the year, Makar doubled the lead on his season’s sixth.

After corralling the puck from Minuteman goaltender Matt Murray (23 saves) at the blue line, the sophomore defenseman turned his head up-ice and did exactly what he does best.

With a burst of speed at center ice, Makar broke away from the trailing Princeton defender and flew down the slot, before sniping one past Ryan Ferland’s (43 saves) blocker to double the lead.

“Makar’s skating is pretty elite,” Carvel said. “It’s fun to watch. He’s starting to read parts of the game in the defensive zone where he’s jumping up and forcing those turnovers. Once he turns it over, nobody is going to catch him. It was good to see him finish on that first bid.”

After enduring a two-goal deficit in the first, the Tigers answered with vengeance in the second.

Spurred by a successful penalty kill that turned down the UMass man-advantage for the second time at the start of the second, Luke Keenan swiftly put Princeton back into contention at 4:49.

After Keenan’s first of the season went high over Murray’s glove to make it a one-goal game with plenty of time remaining, Princeton clawed its way back and tied it at the end of the period.

Through a scoreless third that saw the Minutemen find a high amount of scoring chances, the showdown between two of the nation’s top power play appeared primed to end in a draw.

The Minutemen improve to 11-1-0 on the season with the win.

But, with just under two minutes to play in overtime and the puck bouncing around in front of the Tigers’ netminder, Mario Ferraro suddenly found the puck and tapped it over to Chau.

With his stick planted on the ice, Chau calmly and quickly the puck past Ferland’s reach.

“I’m very happy for Chau,” Carvel said after the win. “We needed him to get off the schneide and score a goal. We’ve been telling him all week, ‘Just go to the front of the net, that’s where you score,’ and he did that, and it was a great job by Mario Ferraro to see him there; that was a great play.”

Liam Flaherty can be reached at lpflaherty@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.

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