The Finals: UMass 6, RPI 1 (10/12), UMass 3, RPI 1 (10/13)
The Stars: Cale Makar (2 G, 2 A), Mitchell Chaffee (3 G)
The Stat: +20 Shots on Goal Differential
The Streak: W2
The Record: 2-0
The 34-Game Pace: 34-0
The Emoji: 💯
UMass hockey sweeps RPI, prepares for big road test this weekend
The Massachusetts hockey team had a dominant first weekend of regular season play. It began on Friday night with a 6-1 over RPI, followed by a 3-1 win at their place, for an overall combined embarrassment of the Engineers 9-2. There was scoring all around, with four powerplay goals coming off the sticks of four different Minutemen. Although sophomore returners Cale Makar (two goals) and Mitchell Chaffee (three goals) led the way for UMass, two other players, (freshmen Ty Farmer and Marc Del Gaizo) found the back of the net in their Mullins Center debut in front of a rowdy student section.
Next weekend UMass has the biggest test possible in two road games against No. 1 Ohio State. The Buckeyes are coming off a Frozen Four appearance and are poised to get back to this year’s tournament in Buffalo, New York. However, UMass is on the verge of being ranked. Ohio State narrowly avoided an upset against Arizona State on opening night, squeaking away with a 3-2 victory. If the powerplay unit connects as well as it did on Friday night, UMass has a chance to sneak away with a win and possibly into the NCAA rankings.
Another key to success for the Minutemen this weekend will be the goaltending unit of sophomore Matt Murray and freshman Fille Lindberg. Last weekend they were electric, stopping 47 of 49 shots for a combined save percentage of 95.9 percent. While Lindberg can expect to get more action than 20 shots should coach Greg Carvel start him, the 6’0” freshman from Espoo, Finland will need to showcase the same excellence that he did last season in Finland, where he’s ranked in the top 15 among European goaltenders in the NHL’s Central Scouting final rankings for the 2018 NHL draft.
All of the action takes place this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, with Friday’s game beginning at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s puck drop slated for 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FM 96.9 and 107.5 as well as streamed on several sites. If UMass pulls off at least one upset, the program is likely to be ranked, which will be a huge jump for the program that only had 5 wins two seasons ago, and it will be a huge momentum shift going into the Hockey East home opener against Merrimack on October 26.