The UMass Amherst winter recess is over, just in time for Minutemen Hockey to right the ship and finish the season strong

Coming off of a big win, the Minutemen will look to keep up the momentum and put the winter break’s stretch of poor play behind them.

With the UMass Amherst winter recess coming to a close, it is about time the UMass Hockey team’s stretch of poor play also came to an end. The Minutemen picked up only three wins in ten games on the ice while class was out of session from late December to early February. This includes a 3-0 blown lead against the Clarkson Golden Knights on December 28, and a six game losing streak spanning from January 7 to January 27. However things may be looking up for UMass hockey as the students come back to class.

Looking Upwards?

The seven-game losing streak was broken this past Friday when the Minutemen held off the Providence Friars, winning 3-2 on the road. This win marks their first victory in almost a month, and only their second away victory of the season. The senior class led the way offensively, with two goals from forward Reed Lebster, and the game winner from forward Cal Kiefiuk. Goalkeeper Luke Pavicich stopped a marvelous 43 of 45 Providence shots, adding up to 118 saves on 124 shots in his last three games. That is good for a .952 save percentage in those games.

The problem for UMass certainly has not been the goaltending. The problem is the offense not getting the puck in the net, and the defense not blocking pucks and creating turnovers. They average 2.65 goals a game and give up 35 shots on average. This may prove that the Minutemen are missing the senior leadership that they once had.

Prior to the Providence game, UMass heavily relied on their freshman and sophomores to win them games. This is shown in time on ice, sophomore Scott Morrow averages exactly 26 minutes of ice time each night, which is currently third in all of the NCAA. sophomore Ryan Ufko is not too far behind, he is seventh in the league with an average of 25 minutes and 32 seconds on ice. The juniors and seniors need to pick up the pace if the Minutemen want to finish the season strong and crawl their way back to a winning percentage that is above .500.

With the win against Providence being the perfect momentum builder, the men in maroon have a fairly easy home stretch with four doubleheaders against four different teams to end their season. Only one of the four remaining opponents are ranked nationally. There is a great chance their seed can be improved immensely, just in time for the Hockey East Championship Tournament.

Vermont Preview

Currently sitting in ninth out of eleven Hockey East teams, the UMass Hockey team certainly has a huge hill to climb. This trek starts with a doubleheader this weekend against the last place team in the conference: the Vermont Catamounts. Vermont is coming off of a 3-1 loss against the Providence Friars this past Sunday. This loss marked the fifteenth loss on the year, sending the Catamounts to a 9-15-3 record.

Despite the poor record, this Vermont team should not be taken lightly. They have recently upset Merrimack and Boston College. Catamount forwards Isak Walther and Andrei Buyalsky lead the offense, as they both are tied with 14 points on the season. Goaltender Gabe Carriere has been solid himself, he currently is posting a 2.42 GAA and a .914 SV%.

With the spring semester starting, UMass Hockey will have the full support of the student body for the first time since December 7. Between them coming off of a huge win, a doubleheader against the worst team in Hockey East, and students in the building, this weekend sets the stage for a potential great finish on a long season.

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