Season Previews: Hockey

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2017-18 Record: 17-20-2 (Overall), 9-13-2 (Hockey East)

 

The UMass Hockey team begins its season tonight at 7 PM against Rensselaer! After a solid season in 2017 with some playoff success, Coach Carvel has his squad geared up and ready to compete.

Despite a losing record last year, this young UMass roster played well on many levels, which included a winning record at home of 11-8. Additionally, they had some huge wins (three against ranked teams), most notably their two victories against Providence, who was ranked in the top 10 at the time of each matchup.

The team showed some promise in the Hockey East Tournament at the conclusion of last season, too. Even though they were swept by second-seeded Northeastern in the second round, they defeated Vermont in the first round in dominant fashion, winning their closeout game by four goals. Assistant Captain Cale Makar said the season ended on, “a high note at the Mullins Center” and is looking forward to receiving “exponential support” from the fans this year.

Speaking of Makar, the superstar defenseman led the way for the Minutemen in 2017, finishing fourth on the team with 21 points and had a +9 plus-minus for the season. Even though Makar was drafted fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he decided to forego the NHL for one more year and stay at UMass. And as fans of Minutemen hockey, we’re all ecstatic he’s here to stay!

However, Makar did not finish the 2017-18 season as the highest-scoring defenseman; that honor would go to fellow freshman (now a sophomore) captain Mario Ferraro. Ferraro finished first on the team with 19 assists, and chipped in four goals as well. Like Makar, Ferraro was drafted in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks in the second round.

Two other notable players from last year include goaltender Matt Murray and forward, and Amherst native, John Leonard. Both were also freshmen last year, and were huge parts of the team’s modest success. Leonard finished as the team’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 28 points overall, while Murray had a solid .911 save percentage on the year. Watch out for this core of sophomores to tear it up in 2018.

Heading into this season, the team has some exciting newcomers to look forward to, especially freshmen brothers Marc and Anthony Del Gaizo. Both were on the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL) last year, with Anthony winning the league’s Player of the Year Award. Marc, on the other hand, led all defensemen in the league in goals with 12 on the year, and was named to the league’s All-Rookie Second Team. Along with the other incoming freshmen, these two brothers will provide a spark on both the offensive and defensive ends.

Although UMass has an exciting roster, the team faces a tough schedule with some big matchups scattered throughout it. It starts with a face-off against the top team in the country in Ohio State during the second week, followed by fourth-ranked Providence in early November. Later on, the team battles both Boston University and Boston College in February, who are ranked eighth and twelfth, respectively.

Even though the team finished below .500 last year, there’s a lot of hype heading into the upcoming season. With only two players graduating from the year before, UMass has plenty of young guns with stellar players at every level. The opposition better be ready to play, or Coach Carvel will have the Minutemen skating circles around them. Go UMass!

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