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Recap ▲ Lowell Sweeps Season Series Over UMass With 4-2 Win

For the fourth time in the last five years the Massachusetts hockey team was swept by its fellow UMass system foe with Lowell gaining their most recent victory 4-2 Friday night.  The loss brought UMass’ record against the River Hawks to a pitiful 1-13-1 over the last half a decade.  The Minutemen have not won the season series against Lowell since a three game sweep in 2010-2011.

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Preview ▲ UMass Heads To Lowell For Non-Conference Matchup

Massachusetts Minutemen 8-19-4 (2-14-4) Hockey East 12th

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Lowell River Hawks 19-7-5 (11-5-4) Hockey East 4th

Ideally Friday’s game would feature UMass playing the satellite campus, perhaps with the Alumni Cup on the line, in a competitive tune-up before their final weekend of the regular season against Providence.  Instead there’s very little at stake as Lowell clinched the Alumni Cup with their January sweep and UMass obviously isn’t any position where potential non-conference wins hold much value at this stage of the season.  For UMass the only thing on the line in Friday’s game against the River Hawks is pride.

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Recap ▲ #11 Lowell Dominates UMass In Weekend Sweep, Wins Alumni Cup

The Massachusetts played 120 minutes this weekend against sister school Lowell and was barely in the games for more than a matter of a few minutes.  The River Hawks grabbed an early lead both nights, controlled possession throughout the weekend series, and utterly embarrassed the Minutemen.  Lack of focus and at times what looked to be a lack of effort made for a tough weekend for the UMass hockey team.  A season that started with such promise after a 4-0-1 start in October now is shaping up to be another huge disappointment as the team has gone 3-13-3 since that hot beginning to the season and is in danger of falling to the bottom of the Hockey East standings.

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Preview ▲ UMass Faces #11 Lowell In Home And Home Series

#11 Lowell River Hawks 12-4-4 (7-2-3) Hockey East 1st

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Massachusetts Minutemen 7-10-4 (2-5-4) Hockey East T-7th

The Massachusetts hockey team hasn’t won a league game since their sweep of UConn in the first week of November, going 0-3-3 in that time.  Their return to Hockey East play in the new year got off to a very rough start last Friday when they were blown out by the Boston University Terriers 7-2.  They’ll look to get back on track in conference this weekend, but it won’t be easy as they’ll have to face the 1st place Lowell River Hawks in a home and home series starting Friday in Amherst.

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View From Section U ▲ Micheletto’s Boyle Blunder

Kevin Boyle committed to play hockey at the University of Massachusetts in February of 2009 at age 16.  After a couple more seasons of juniors, one year played in his native New Jersey and the other on the west coast of Canada, he came to Amherst in the fall of 2011.  He would make his debut in the opening game of the season, a 3-3 tie at Northeastern where he made 29 saves.  A week later he made his Mullins Center debut and got his first collegiate win in a 5-3 decision over Bentley.  If all had gone to plan Boyle would’ve played his last game as a senior last February.  But things did not go as planned.  Instead he’ll make his final appearance in Amherst this Friday.  He’ll be wearing a UMass sweater, but not one adorned with maroon and white.  Instead it’ll be the red and blue jersey of UMass-Lowell where Boyle is putting up excellent numbers in net for a top ten team with their sights set on the NCAA tournament.

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Weekend Wrap-Around ▲ Lagesson Named To Sweden’s Preliminary World Junior Roster

Before jumping into the usual recap of the weekend that was, the big news today was that UMass defenseman William Lagesson was named to the preliminary World Junior Championship roster for his native Sweden.  This isn’t a big surprise since he played for the Swedish junior team last winter.  The last Minuteman to play in the World Junior Championships was Stephen Werner in 2004.

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Weekend Wrap-Around ▲ Hockey East Claims Three Of Top Four Spots In Rankings

Hockey East continues to show it’s the best conference in college hockey, boasting three of the top four teams in the country.  The latest USCHO polls has Providence continuing its reign as the #1 team in the country with Boston College just behind them at #2.  Lowell moved up to #4 after taking three points from Notre Dame.  Staying at #3 is UMass’ next opponent, 11-0-2 Quinnpiac.

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Weekend Wrap-around ▲ New Brunswick Splits Against Top Hockey East Teams

Time for the first Weekend Wrap-around of the season taking a look at what’s going on around the rest of Hockey East and in college hockey in general, as well as catch up on any other UMass news coming out of the weekend.

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View From Balcony 322: Why Not Us? (Go Friars!)

On Thursday I was at the TD Garden with 18,000 other diehard college hockey fans from across the country to experience the wonderful event that is the Frozen Four.  If you haven’t attended a Frozen Four before, I highly recommend it.  As big as college hockey is in some of our lives it’s still has a relatively small hardcore following, so it’s a lot of fun to get all those fans together in one place at one time.  It’s interesting to see all the different jerseys and traditions of programs you don’t typically interact with much.

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Saturday Recap

This recap will be brief due to a couple of reasons.  First, I didn’t make it to the game so I don’t have any first hand observations to share, only what was relayed from Brock Hines and Adam Frenier through the radio broadcast.  Secondly, there’s not really much to say.  UMass went into the weekend with a chance to move into 6th place.  Instead they’ve dropped a place in the standings to 8th and are just barely holding onto that as Maine is just one point behind.  In fact there was a point last night where the scores at the time would’ve resulted in UMass in 9th place.

I don’t know if it was effort or execution that did the Minutemen in last night.  I do know that after a scoreless first a shorthanded goal, the 7th given up this season, gave Lowell a 1-0 lead just six and a half minutes into the period.  That would open up the floodgates for scoring as Lowell would score just a few minutes later on the power play and then the teams would trade goals after that for the next few minutes.  But in the end Lowell finished the second period up 3-2 and that’s the score that would hold until the end.  Lowell would outshoot UMass in the final two periods 26-18.  The Minutemen were not helped by six penalties taken in the last two periods either.

There were a number of lineup changes in last night’s game.  The most suprising was the healthy scratch of Conor Allen, probably UMass’ best performing defenseman on the season.  It’s likely Coach Micheletto was sending a message to Allen for grabbing two game misconducts in two games.  Personally I’m not sure if that was a fair decision.  The misconduct last Sunday against Merrimack for contact to the head was thought to be a horrible call by the fans and even press members in attendance.  The misconduct on Friday was out of frustration in the waning minutes of a blowout and hardly factored into the result.  With Allen out Anthony Raiola made the lineup for his 9th game this season.  Mike Busillo was sat again in favor of Peter DeAngelo.  Steve Mastalerz was in net for the game and sounded like he played well.

Whether the lineup changes made the difference last night, I don’t know.  I do know that this team is now fighting for their playoff lives and is probably playing its worst hockey of the season.  The team is 1-4-0 in their last five and have only three wins in the nine games played since the beginning of January.  For the second year in a row Lowell has not only won the season series with UMass, but swept them.  A new coach but the same February struggles and again the Minutemen will have to battle just to stay in the playoff race.  The next six days will be key as they’ll have to rebound to face Northeastern in a rare Tuesday game and then take on Maine who will look to overtake the Minutemen in the standings.  The season started with a lot of hope given a new coaching staff and the quality of players returning.  However through 27 games the team is again near the bottom of the standings and has a worse record than last year.  Maybe this season is just a temporary set back before future success.  But UMass fans have been waiting long enough for a winning team and it’d be nice to head into the offseason at least feeling good about the program’s future.  Micheletto and the players have just seven more games to do so.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Mike Pereira
Pereira had a goal and an assist on the night.  He now has nine points in his last five games, including five goals.

Here’s the Republican recap.

College Hockey News has their takeaways.

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