Minutemen face UVM to continue road trip
With two nationally ranked opponents on the schedule for Thanksgiving week, the Massachusetts hockey team will look to continue its success on the road against Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
Leaving with a 4-3 overtime win over then-No. 9 Yale at Ingalls Rink in their last contest, the No. 10 Minutemen are now 3-0 away from home this season. The two previous victories for UMass (8-2, 4-2 Hockey East) were against Providence and Niagara.
UMass coach Don Cahoon isn’t concerned with the success his team has had on the road and is focused on the game, not the venue.
“It’s good to win just in general,” Cahoon said. “I don’t think we’re going to get into counting the numbers. We have one game to play and we have to be ready to take care of business.”
After beginning the year with seven of their first 10 games in the friendly confines of the Mullins Center, the schedule will even out for the Minutemen, playing their next eight games on the road, including five games against Hockey East opponents.
The UMass offense, which ranks eighth in the nation, averages over four goals per game, while allowing nearly three scores away from home.
Though the No. 18 Catamounts (4-4-1, 3-3-1 HEA) are toting a .500 record, they are 2-0-1 in the few games they’ve played on their own ice this season. Last year, Vermont was tough at home as well, holding a 9-6-4 record.
Two of the three opponents the Catamounts have faced at home have been nationally ranked teams. Against then-No. 12 Boston College, Vermont handed the Eagles (5-3-2, 4-3-2 HEA) their worst loss of the year in their season opener. The Catamounts battled with then-No. 8 UMass-Lowell, coming away with a 3-3 tie in the River Hawks’ (8-2-1, 4-1-1 HEA) only draw this year.
Along with home ice, Vermont will have the advantage of being fully rested with a nine-day hiatus since its last game against BC.
The Minutemen have not had more than five days off between games since October and have dealt with injuries all season, although they are finally healthy and at full strength now.
Cahoon isn’t so sure that the extra days off for the Catamounts will be beneficial as much as it could slow Vermont down.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage to not play for nine days, as opposed to being out of rhythm,” he said. “It’s hard to get into game rhythm and it’s something that could sometimes take a little while when you haven’t played in a couple weeks.”
Braun filling stat sheet
After Will Ortiz and Michael Lecomte had their four game point streaks snapped against Yale last week, Justin Braun is the only UMass skater with an active streak heading into the matchup with the Catamounts.
Though he is one of the conference’s top defenseman, the senior boasts a strong offensive game, adding to the bevy of talented defensemen for UMass.
“We have some defensemen that jump into the play, and I think that’s a product of system of play and also a product of their skill level,” Cahoon said.
In his last four contests, Braun has recorded three assists and a goal, leading the Minutemen to a 3-1 record over that span.
Braun is one of three UMass skaters with double-digit points with 11 this season.
“He always does a good job for us and I think he’s raised his level a bit as he’s had to do a little more,” Cahoon said. “We just encourage him to be as good as he can be and he’s a great college player.”
Jay Asser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.