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Minutemen stay undefeated heading into weekend matches

The Massachusetts men’s club hockey team is living the dream, as its perfect record is still intact after another enticing weekend, which featured its first home victory against Rensselaer.

“I feel very happy; we’re in the right direction. We’re winning the way we should be winning. Everyone’s getting on the ice, and right now we’re where we want to be,” UMass coach Bob Talloni said.

On Oct. 9, UMass (5-0-0) faced off against Westfield State, a team that Talloni calls the Minutemen’s biggest state rival.

Before the match against the Owls (0-1-0), assistant coach Steve MacKay made the team’s intentions clear.

“Our team captains will focus on using the entire ice surface, sound break-out plays and relentless-puck pursuit. We’d like to win for our fans and our school, so being in our own rink is a great edge,” MacKay said.

“[Westfield State] only seems to get up for us, and we only seem to get up for them,” Talloni said.

Both Talloni and MacKay’s predictions were spot on, as a strong pursuit led to their victory. Forward Reed Powers stood by his last name, powering his way to the goal for two scores. Reed has scored four goals this season, with an average of one goal per game.

“Reed is an outstanding person – so motivated on the bench. Not only is he a self-motivator but also a team motivator. He keeps everybody motivated,” said Talloni, who is coaching UMass for his second year.

The other two scores were put in by defender Michael Noce and forward Brian Dragunas, both firsts on the season.

The commanding victory over the Owls was followed by a 6-1 triumph over the Engineers (1-3-0) this past Sunday.

“We looked at [the Rensselaer game as] our first major challenge of the season. It was a very controlled game, and we were able to get the win by working hard,” Talloni said.

Before the game, Talloni said the locker room had a special way of looking at playing the Engineers.

“It wasn’t all ‘la-la, let’s go win.’ It was like plastic surgery. You know when the surgeon puts a scar on a person’s face to map out what he’s going to do? We’re going to map it out as well; it’s like that,” Talloni said.

The first 15 minutes of the game were filled with hard-fought, equal-matched play. But after a great amount of hard work, UMass outshined the Engineers, putting in the first give goals of the game.

After the game, Talloni looked ahead to what was coming after some time of reflection.

“Once the game is over and I get home, I look things over and see what went wrong. When I wake up the next morning, it’s on to the next team,” Talloni said.

UMass will return to the Mullins Center this Friday, where they will take on Millersville. The only match up between the Minutemen and Marauders (0-3-0) was on Oct. 17, 2008. UMass was able to outplay Millersville on the offensive side, finishing the game with 7-4 being the final score.

“We’ve been scheduling practice in ways that will keep us on edge,” said Talloni.

He explained that Mondays practice was long, fluid and focused on cardio exercises as a way to keep the players fresh and consistent.

“There’s no class system. Everybody plays; everybody is on the same page,” Talloni said.

Two nights after, the Minutemen will play on the road against Central Connecticut State. The last time UMass played the Blue Devils was in 2006, when the two split their series. The Minutemen narrowly escaped with a 5-4 victory at home, while Central Connecticut bounced back in the second game and buried UMass 7-3 at its home rink. This upcoming match will be the rubber match, three years in the making.

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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