Schedule Released

The schedule for the upcoming season was announced this afternoon and it did contain one small surprise.  Instead of an expected visit to the Mullins from Yale the Minutemen will host the Swedish Under-20 team in an exhibition game.  They will likely be a pretty talented bunch as this past Spring’s squad won a bronze at the World Junior Championships.  This second exhibition game on top of the pre-season rematch against New Brunswick also means UMass will play one less regular season game than it did last year, 33 versus 34.  This could because Coach Cahoon was looking to make the long season just a little less grueling for a team that is heavily laden with freshmen and offset not one but two trips out west to play WCHA powerhouses.  Or, it may have just been as simple as not being able to find a missing piece of the scheduling puzzle.

Either way it’s still going to be one of the toughest schedules in UMass hockey history and those young players will be thrown into the fire right from the get go with a season opening trip to play Minnesota at Mariucci Arena (which coincidently I got to see from the skies above the Twin Cities after catching a connecting flight last week).  Hockey East play will get going for the Minutemen the following weekend with a trip to The Greek to take on Boston University.  They’ll first hit the Mullins ice for this year’s campaign against those same Terriers on 10/22.

Halloween weekend will again feature a home and home with Providence.  Then they’ll briefly jump out of conference play the next weekend as the USMA Black Knights visit Amherst followed by the exhibition against the Swedes the next night.  I know I mentioned it earlier in the Summer, but I really think the game against Army presents an excellent opportunity for the school to do some kind of tie-in with the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund.  UMass will then play two games at UNH the week after which the back to back home games between these two teams introduced last year continuing.  Thanksgiving will be bookended by two home games with the traditional Turkey Tuesday game against Vermont and then Quinnipiac visiting that weekend.  The fall semester will conclude with a visit by Lowell and a trip to Maine over the span of two weeks.

After the December break UMass will celebrate New Years with a two game series out at Wisconsin.  It’ll be interesting to see how UMass fares against the WCHA’s Badgers and Gophers as like UMass both power programs have seen significant players leave school early.  Hopefully the early season trip to Minnesota will help better prepare the team for the games at Madison and they can try to pick up some favorable non-conference results to start the new year.  The team comes back with two home games against UNH and Northeastern but the schedule gets very difficult at that point with five of the next seven games away from home.

First off will be a home and home with Lowell to finish off that season series.  Two games up in Burlington against UVM are then followed by a home and home with Northeastern.  Amazingly, UMass will not face defending national champion Boston College for the first time until the first week of February with a trip to Newton followed by a look at the newly renovated home of the Merrimack Warriors. 

From then on travel will be at a minimum with 6 of the final 8 games in Amherst, kicked off with games against BU and Providence and a home and home with Merrimack.  The final four games come against Boston College and Maine.

As I said, this is a really difficult schedule.  Despite the defections Minnesota has seen (and perhaps will continue to see) it’ll still be a big challenge to expect the young Minutemen team to start off the opening weekend with much success.  The four games against Providence (two), Army, and the exhibition against the Swedes should give the team a chance to get some wins and also establish some confidence in themselves.  Perhaps a split against UNH and then taking a couple of the next three at home and the team could be in decent shape at winter break.  What will they do in Wisconsin and after?  Well, let’s not think about the second half of the season just yet.  After all, I’m still trying to forget the second half of last season.  But we do know that if the team is able to establish any kind of momentum to start the season the mental toughness of the team will be tested once again when they get deep into Hockey East play come January.  One good thing about the youth of the team and large roster turnover is that a sizable portion of the team will not have suffered through the late season collapses and hopefully won’t even give it a thought.


News broke tonight that Cody Ferriero who just decommitted from BC will be playing at Northeastern this coming season.  Reportedly he had heard from five Hockey East teams since announcing his attentions not to head to Chestnut Hill.  I am nearly certain UMass was one of those five.