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News ▲ Kravchenko, Smiley, and Burchett Depart From UMass Hockey

Anyone who has followed the recent recruiting haul of UMass coach Greg Carvel and his staff for this fall has realized that the numbers didn’t add up.  UMass will be adding nine newcomers this coming season but has only subtracted two seniors to graduation plus Henry Dill, whose departure was reported last month.  It was clear there was further roster turnover coming and we learned which players would not be returning today.  After Dennis Kravchenko’s departure was first reported today on Twitter by @USHockeyWire, Matt Vautour of the Gazette confirmed that he plus Maddison Smiley and Keith Burchett were no longer with the program.

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Preview ▲ UMass Faces Hot Huskies Squad In Home-And-Home Series

Northeastern Huskies 10-13-5 (4-8-4) Hockey East T-6th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 8-17-4 (2-12-4) Hockey East 12th

Unfortunately the schedule gods did not see fit to let UMass face Northeastern in late November when they were just 1-11-2.  No, the Minutemen will have to face the Huskies for a home and home weekend series while they’re on a streak where they’re 8-1-2 in their last 11 games with their only loss coming against Boston University in the first round of the Beanpot.  Most recently the Huskies are coming off an impressive 5-1 win over #9 Harvard in the Beanpot consolation game.

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Recap ▲ Maine Sweeps UMass Into The Hockey East Basement

Even when the Massachusetts season started its downward turn and more recently when the team dropped games to Boston University and Boston College by the scores of 7-2 and 8-0, I still felt confident that the team would at least be able to get one conference win when Maine visited this weekend.  After all, Maine is one of the worst teams in the country.  In addition having one of the most ineffective offenses in college hockey this Black bear team had won exactly zero games away from Alfond Arena.  So it seemed logical that at worst UMass would manage a split.  But for the second night in a row Maine dominated in terms of possession and grabbed the narrow 5-4 win.  The sweep at the hands of the Black Bears means the Minutemen are now in sole possession of last place in Hockey East.

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Preview ▲ Four Hockey East Points On The Line As Maine Visits UMass

Maine Black Bears 5-15-6 (2-8-2) Hockey East 12th

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Massachusetts Minutemen 7-14-4 (2-9-4) Hockey East T-10th

The Massachusetts hockey team last gained a league point on 11/21 with a tie against Merrimack.  They have lost their last seven Hockey East games since and have been unable to make any headway in the conference standings.  The last place Maine Black Bears coming to the Mullins Center for two games represents UMass’ best chance to get a win since facing Army to begin the calendar year.  There are a lot of factors that favor the Minutemen in this matchup, but Maine should not be overlooked.  We’ve learned the hard way in recent years that nothing should be taken for granted with this UMass team.

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Recap ▲ Vermont Comes Back To Defeat UMass 6-4

A night after perhaps their worst performance of the season the Massachusetts hockey team looked much better as they hosted the Vermont Catamounts.  UMass would play well enough to take a 4-2 lead into the final period.  However they ran out of gas late, gave up four third period goals, and ended up falling to UVM 6-4.  There were a number of positives to take away from the game, such as the offensive reemergence of Dennis Kravchenko and Austin Plevy as well as Nic Renyard’s performance in net.  However the team still cannot find a way to win and are now 1-12-0 in their last 13 games.  In addition John Micheletto is now winless in his last 8 games against his former team.

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Midseason Review ▲ After Hot Start To Season Minutemen Limp Into Winter Break

The Massachusetts Minutemen play an exhibition hockey game this Friday against the US Junior National Team, but for all intents and purposes the team is on winter break, having played 18 of its 34 regular season games this season.  So this is a good time to reflect on what has transpired so far in the first half of the season.  Maybe it makes sense to split that half in halves again, because there were two distinct phases of the season and one could almost say the Minutemen were two distinct teams in those two time periods.  In the early part of the season UMass surprised everyone, jumping out to a 6-2-1 record and finding itself just on the outside of the USCHO rankings.  But the Minutemen have not won since grabbing that sixth win on November 7th, going winless in their last nine games and losing their last five straight before break.  The sum of the two performances leaves UMass holding an overall record of 6-8-4 with their 2-4-4 league record leaving them in a three-way tie for 7th place with New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Recap ▲ Minutemen Swept By Notre Dame, Fall Below .500 For The Season

The Massachusetts hockey team was in need of at least a split this weekend out in South Bend against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The Minutemen were coming off of a sweep at the hands of #3 Quinnipiac the weekend before and were winless in their previous six.  They also had yet to show that they could get a Hockey East win outside of the teams currently at the bottom of the league standings.  After a surprisingly strong start through early November fans have been waiting for UMass to take the next step and show they can compete with the teams in the top half of the league.  Instead  it looks like the team has taken a step back.  The latest setback was Notre Dame sweeping UMass’ last league games before winter break 3-1 and 5-1.

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Recap ▲ UMass Offense Stifled In Weekend Sweep By #3 Quinnipiac

We knew coming into this weekend that this Massachusetts hockey team has had a tough time getting on the scoreboard against the elite defensive teams in the country.  They lost 6-1 in the Capital City Classic against Yale and earlier this month dropped a 7-0 decision to Boston College. They did not fare much better against the #3 Quinnipiac Bobcats who came into this home-and-home series allowing the 4th fewest goals and shots on net per game.  The Bobcats’ defense lived up to their dominant expectations and allowed just a single goal against UMass, winning the games 4-1 and 1-0.

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Recruit Update ▲ Dixson Signs His National Letter Of Intent

Time to see how the recruits are doing. Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the early signing period.  Justin Dixson is the only recruit who has been publicly reported as signing his NLI.  UMass typically doesn’t announce them as they get them, but will do so with a taped scouting report from coach John Micheletto in the future.  A reader was also kind enough to point out that Shane Bear had previously signed his NLI, so I’ve made that correction below.  Today is the last day of the early signing period.

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Recap ▲ Boston College Blitzes UMass 7-0

Boston College 7.  Massachusetts 0.

These blowouts were supposed to be a thing of the past.  Over the summer Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto re-tooled his defense, bringing in four players who are either already drafted, attended an NHL prospect camp this summer, or are projected to be drafted next June.  Or some combination of all three.  In net, Micheletto finally landed the high profile goaltender he’s been coveting, with the top Junior A player in all of Canada landing in Amherst during the offseason.  Yet, here we are a month into the season and UMass finds itself 56th in the country in goals against after giving up 23 goals in the last 4 games.  They are also 56th in penalty kill with opponents scoring a third of the time on the power play.  Players leave.  New players come in.  But the program continues to be dogged by major defensive deficiencies.

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