Weekly Updates: Hockey (2/15)

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Freeman Alfano

Now in the closing stretch of their schedule, UMass is looking to finish their season off strong. Currently ranked number three overall in the country, the Minutemen have built a strong case for themselves as the best team in college hockey. Let’s take a look at how the past few games went for UMass, and what the team faces in their upcoming schedule.

Over the past two weeks, the Minutemen finished with a respectable record of 2-1. This included two wins over Boston University and a loss to their UMass counterpart, #15 UMass Lowell. The loss ultimately caused the team to drop from number two to number three in the country.

Nicolaus Czarnecki, Boston Herald

While relatively close, both wins over BU showcased the Minutemen’s ability to assert their will onto opponents for enough of the game to emerge victorious. The first 7-5 victory on the road was tight throughout, but two goals by Ty Farmer in the third period put UMass over the edge. John Leonard continued his impressive season in the win as well, contributing a goal of his own and two assists in the effort.

The second win over BU in the rocking, sold out Mullins Center was nerve racking from the start, as the team went into the first period intermission down 1-0. However, the Minutemen stayed resilient, and scored two momentum-shifting goals in the second, including one off a beautiful assist from Cale Makar after he took the puck coast-to-coast. Despite the early deficit, UMass dominated the shot charts in this one, outshooting BU by 12 overall and earning a 30-12 shot margin in the first two periods.

The Minutemen followed up this impressive victory with a disappointing loss to UMass Lowell the night after by the score of 2-0. 15th-ranked Lowell stifled a usually dominant Amherst power play, which finished the night 0-4 on special teams. While Matt Murray made 28 saves in a solid effort, Amherst’s offense couldn’t do enough in this one to overcome an early deficit.

Upcoming Schedule

In the next two weeks, UMass has four total games, two of which are against Boston College this weekend. BC is in the midst of a down season, as they currently sit four games under .500. However, the Minutemen should be careful with their second game against them, which is on the road, as they have been prone to losing at least one game of a season series against a few teams this year.

Following the two BC games is a matchup against UConn at home, and a trip to Providence to take on the 13th-ranked Friars. UConn, who is 9-17-2 on the season, should not pose much of a threat to the Minutemen. They lost to UMass 7-4 in their last matchup and have a tendency to let quality teams run up the score on them. The game against Providence will be a different story, however, as the Friars will be looking to get revenge for both of their one-goal losses against the top-ranked Minutemen this season.

After the game against Providence next Saturday, UMass will only have three contests left in their regular season schedule, which will be followed by the Hockey East tournament. Also, none of those three games are against a ranked opponent, with the toughest matchup for the Minutemen being Maine, who beat them less than a month ago. As the season winds down, look for UMass to keep grinding on its way to a potential top seed in the Frozen Four tournament and a lengthy playoff run. Go UMass!

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