In a battle of the last two national champions, No. 13 UMass pulled off the upset against reigning champ No. 1 Denver, 4-2, at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, on Friday.
The Minutemen (1-0-1) were in an unfamiliar spot as underdogs, hosting the Pioneers (2-1-0) for the first of a two-game set at home. To make matters worse, UMass found themselves in trouble early when senior forward Cal Kiefiuk took a five-minute major and 10-minute game misconduct for hitting from behind just 38 seconds into the proceedings.
It proved no matter as about halfway through the penalty kill, senior forward Reed Lebster broke into the Denver zone on an odd-man rush with freshman Kenny Connors. Lebster's cross-crease to Connors fluttered, but the frosh redirected it for his first collegiate goal to make it 1-0.
The Minutemen weren't done with the shorthanded magic as sophomore defenseman Scott Morrow scored on a feed from sophomore Ryan Lautenbach to double the lead just 1:21 later. Freshman Tyson Dyck extended the UMass cushion with his first career score in the back half of the first, making it 3-0 on the top team in the nation.
The Minutemen special teams continued to surge in the second as Lebster got in on the fun, but this time it was a power play goal for UMass to make it 4-0 less than three minutes into the period.
The Pioneers wouldn't go down without a fight, though, as the Minutemen penalty kill couldn't remain perfect for the entire game. Sophomore Carter Mazur got DU on the board with a power play goal late in the third, redirecting Jack Devine's shot, and Shai Buium pulled Denver within two with under five minutes to go off a blast from the point.
Even with the Pioneers pushing with the extra attacker on the ice, UMass clung to the two-goal lead for the win.
Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET in Amherst.