Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UM opponents provide different challenges over weekend

The Massachusetts hockey team faces off against two tough in-state rivals that present drastically different challenges this weekend in Boston College and UMass Lowell.

Both opponents for No. 9 UMass this weekend are ranked nationally, and  are in the top four in the Hockey East standings. Where BC and UMass-Lowell differ, though, is experience and pure skill.

The No. 16 Eagles (6-3-2, 4-3-2 Hockey East), who come to the Mullins Center Friday night, are a perennial Hockey East powerhouse, but feature several young players in key positions on the blue line.

For defensemen, the Eagles have four freshman, two sophomores and one senior. That lack of experience is something that Cahoon said the Minutemen will try to take advantage of. That edge, though, won’t be as easy to grab as it would seem. According to Cahoon, what the Eagles lack in experience in some areas, they make up for with pure skill.

Freshmen Patrick Wey, Brian Dumoulin and Philip Samuelsson, who have each played in all nine games so far this season, are young, and bring plenty of size to the table on defense. At 6-foot-2, Wey is the smallest of the bunch, with Samuelsson coming in at 6-foot-3 and Dumoulin towering over all players on UMass and BC at 6-foot-4.

The No. 8 River Hawks (8-4-1, 4-3-1 Hockey East) meanwhile, are one of the most experienced teams in the country. After a breakthrough season that concluded with a loss in the Hockey East Championship game, Lowell returns in 2009 with its lineup from last season virtually intact.

The River Hawks feature 12 seniors and six juniors on their roster and use them well. Five of the six top scorers for Lowell are seniors while the team’s top scorer, Scott Campbell (13 points on five goals and eight assists), is a junior.

Offense clicking 5-on-5

With 10 goals over the weekend, including a hat trick against Vermont by sophomore Casey Wellman, the Minutemen continued their torrid pace of offense this season.

What has been a welcoming sight, though, is that, as opposed to earlier in the season, more of UMass’ goals are coming with the teams at even strength, rather than when the Minutemen are on the power play.

“On the power plays, we’ve had a lot of success. It’s a good and a bad thing, because we were kind of struggling 5-on-5,” Wellman said. “So we tried to focus a little bit more on getting some 5-on-5 points.”

While UMass’ was riding high offensively earlier the season, the team’s offense was heavily reliant on power play goals. Although scoring with the man advantage was indeed a positive for the offense, the ability to score for all 60 minutes on the ice is a big advantage for the Minutemen.

“It’s great to get goals on the power play,” Wellman said. “But 5-on-5, you get a lot of momentum, and [it] shows [that] the guys are working hard, so it’s definitely a key part to our game.”

While Cahoon appreciates the contributions from the team’s forwards, he sees the team’s offense as something that will come naturally with the talented lines the Minutemen have up front. To take the team’s play to the next level, Cahoon says, the same players that are producing so well on offense have to live up to their capabilities on defense.

“You recruit offense and you teach defense,” Cahoon said. “The defensive part of our game needs to be more consistent. Guys know that if we are to become a championship team, it’ll be because, on the defensive side of the ledger, we’ve played up to a higher level.”

Nick O’Malley can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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