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September 21, 2016

Minutewomen host Lady Icers in first conference game of the season

After a loss to Holy Cross last Saturday, the Massachusetts women’s club hockey team looks to redeem itself when it hosts Penn State this upcoming weekend.

The Minutewomen (0-1) have high standards to live up to based on previous matchups against the Lady Icers (1-1-1). Two seasons ago, UMass faced Penn State three times and won each match. Last season had a similar outcome, with the Lady Icers falling to the Minutewomen in all four meetings.

In these previous matchups, UMass Coach Chris Cobb felt as though his team could go through the motions of a regular hockey game and come out with the win. This time, however, will be different, as Cobb feels the two teams are more evenly matched.

“We can’t just go through the motions,” Cobb said. “These will be two close games.”

There has been plenty to improve upon with the important games approaching. The majority of the Holy Cross game was played defensively by the Minutewomen, with the offense failing to produce any goals. Cobb has run practice with plays in the neutral zone, along with body contact drills. Winning loose pucks is also something Cobb hoped to improve upon.

He also felt strongly that, despite the eight goals allowed, his defense played well, making only little mistakes that led to goals. With work in the defensive zones, on the forecheck and with special teams, Cobb hopes to eliminate unneeded errors.

“We watched the video of the Holy Cross game, which helped the team to see themselves play,” Cobb said.

This is something important to Cobb because he feels that changes won’t be made until they can see for themselves the mistakes that occurred on the ice.

UMass will face a Penn State team that has a steady and strong season so far. The Lady Icers’ most recent game was against Slippery Rock, a game they won 13-0. Ten players scored for Penn State, showing that they are not lacking a strong offense. Senior Alicia Lepore made a name for herself as someone to watch out for, scoring a hat trick during this game. The Lady Icers started its season off with a tie and a loss against Liberty. In the three games, Penn State’s defense allowed seven goals, versus the 19 goals it has scored.

However, the majority of the Lady Icers’ success comes while playing at home. All seven of its goals allowed have been on the road, along with just six of its 19 goals – a good sign for the Minutewomen. Penn State ended last year’s season with a losing record of 7-19 overall, 2-4 in conference play. The Lady Icers’ previous losing season does not lower expectations for Cobb.

“I expect Penn State to be very even with us,” Cobb said. “There will be very close battles”.

The games this weekend represent the first time this season UMass will play a conference team. The loss against Holy Cross will not affect its conference standings; however, the Penn State game will have the first significant impact on the Minutewomen and how the season will turn out.

Massachusetts will first meet the Lady Icers Friday at 10 p.m. in the Mullins Center practice rink. The second game will be played Saturday at 1 p.m. in the main rink.

Geena Lombardi can be reached at glombard@student.umass.edu

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