Preview: Maine Visits Amherst For Two Non-Conference Matches

Maine Black Bears 6-13-1 (2-6-0) Hockey East 10th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 5-14-0 (1-10-0) Hockey East 12th

The Maine Black Bears and Massachusetts Minutemen have already played the games that counted in the Hockey East standings earlier in the year, with the Maine taking all four points.  But Red Gendron and the Black Bears will be coming south to Amherst to take on the Minutemen this weekend in a couple of non-conference affairs at the Mullins Center.  Just because there aren’t any league points at stake, doesn’t make these games meaningless.  Maine will want to continue the momentum they’ve built in winning 3 of their last 4.  The Minutemen meanwhile need to figure out a way to start winning some games, especially at home where they’ve won just once all season.

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View From Section U: Winning While Inexperienced

Coming into this season it was understood that there might be some growing pains due to the fact that the Massachusetts hockey team was going to have to rely on their underclassmen so much and so soon.  The team lost a good chunk of its goal scoring with the graduation of last year’s seniors and it was known that the incoming freshmen would need to contribute right away while the sophomore class would have to build on their impressive freshman campaigns last year.  Not to mention, Frank Vatrano, technically a sophomore but really a freshman, would need to be the star that it was rumored he would be.

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Vatrano Named Hockey East Player of the Month; Recruit Update

Massachusetts sophomore Frank Vatrano gained the well deserved honor of being named the Hockey East Player of the Month for December today.  Vatrano, who has been on fire since the first day of November, had six goals and 3 assists during last month.  Crunching the numbers, as I tend to do, Vatrano accounted for 43% of the Minutemen’s goals, 26% of the team’s total points, and 20% of their shots on goal during the final month of the year.

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Weekend Wraparound: Auvenshine Done For Season

Starting off the weekly summary post is news that I first reported on Twitter that senior forward Emerson Auvenshine is likely done for the season.  This means his career in a Massachusetts sweater is finished as well.  Auvenshine recently underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his knee and will not recover by the end of the season.

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Recap: UConn Gains Its First Hockey Road Win, Drops UMass 4-3

The Massachusetts hockey team picked up right where they left off in 2014 in terms of league play performance and that’s not a good thing.  UConn came into the Mullins Center in their first Hockey East game against the Minutemen and picked up their first road win in their new league 4-3.  The Huskies have now won two straight games against the Minutemen, the first consecutive wins in the series between the programs for the Huskies since 1979, the year the UMass hockey program went dark before being resurrected in 1993.

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Preview: UMass Hosts UConn In First League Match of 2015

Connecticut Huskies 4-9-4 (2-4-1) Hockey East 9th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 5-13-0 (1-9-0) Hockey East 12th

Massachusetts will face UConn for the first time as a Hockey East foe on Friday night as the Minutemen continue to look for their second league win of the season.  At the beginning of the season this game probably looked like a good chance of a win since the Huskies were not expected to compete in their new league right away.  But that hasn’t been the case.  UConn has had some key wins and ties in the league and find themselves not only ahead of the Minutemen in the standings, but Maine and New Hampshire too.

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View From Section U: What Rivalry?

On Friday night the Massachusetts Minutemen will host the UConn Huskies for the first time as Hockey East foes.  When it was announced UConn would become Hockey East’s 12th team in the Summer of 2012, one of the many selling points for the union was that the Huskies would have a natural rival already in the league in UMass.  To make the most of this rivalry there is already talk that in future years the teams will play an extra game against each other with a trophy going to the winner of the yearly series.  Rumor also has it that Hockey East plans on having UMass and UConn play outside next season in the next edition of Frozen Fenway (or wherever they choose to play), looking to make the most of the rivalry in one of the league’s feature events.  There’s only one problem with all this that I can see.  What rivalry?

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Recruit Update: Pelton-Byce, Leonard Lead Teams To Tournament Titles

This is a long overdue look at how the future Minutemen have fared lately as holiday schedules and mid-week games haven’t allowed for one in recent weeks.  Gone from the recruit list is Brandon Montour who has made his UMass debut and has two assists in his three games as a Minuteman.  Added to the list are Nic Renyard and Ivan Chukarov who verbally committed to Coach Micheletto’s program earlier in the month.

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Recap: Minutemen Top Air Force 5-1 To Close Out Catamount Cup

The Massachusetts Minutemen desperately needed a win.  Losers of five straight and eight of their last nine, UMass was paired with Air Force for the second leg of the Catamount Cup tournament.  The matchup was a favorable one for UMass as the Falcons have also struggled on the season, winning just five games and neck and neck with the Minutemen in the Pairwise and KRACH computer rankings.  As expected, the game played pretty evenly through two periods with UMass taking a 2-1 lead into the final period.  Fans, myself included, were wary of another poor final period by the team but instead the Minutemen were on the right side of a third period goal outburst and ended up getting a very solid and much needed 5-1 win over the Air Force.

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Recap: UMass Stymied by Gillies, Providence in Catamount Cup Opener

Throughout the season Massachusetts hockey games have consistently featured a number of very specific negative aspects.  They’ve differed somewhat between blowout losses and close losses, but there are familiar themes that come into play for each game.  Yesterday was one of those close loss type of games where the team played well at times, seeming close to turning a corner, only to have the same deficiencies hurt them in the end.  Yesterday’s game featured the following familiar themes; hanging with a good team for a couple periods, a Vatrano goal, killer defensive breakdowns at the most inopportune time, and ultimately losing the game because of poor third period play combined with poor special teams.

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