Scrolling Headlines:

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

Minutemen look to avoid three straight losses with pair against Vermont -

January 10, 2018

Men’s and women’s track and field open seasons at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2018

Turnovers and poor shooting hurt UMass women’s basketball in another conference loss at St. Bonaventure -

January 8, 2018

Shorthanded, UMass men’s basketball shocks Dayton with 62-60 win -

January 7, 2018

Northampton City Council elects Ryan O’Donnell as new council president -

January 7, 2018

UMass power play stays hot but Minutemen lose 8-3 to UMass Lowell -

January 7, 2018

UMass hockey falls to UMass Lowell in 8-3 blowout -

January 7, 2018

UMass hockey falls short against Yale in 5-3 loss Friday -

January 5, 2018

Otis Livingston II, George Mason drop UMass men’s basketball 80-72 -

January 3, 2018

Johnston: UMass fails to earn first conference win against George Mason -

January 3, 2018

Minutemen face stiff competition over break

The month of January, and more importantly its play over winter break, can be a vital for the Massachusetts hockey team.

Just take a look at the records down the stretch of the No. 15 Massachusetts hockey team the past two seasons. In the 2008-09 season, the Minutemen entered January with a 9-7-1 record. After playing to a 2-4-2 record in the month of January, UMass continued to slide, going 4-7-0 for the remainder of the regular season and finishing with a 15-18-3 record.

The 2007-09 season was no better, as the Minutemen had a strong start to the season, a 9-3-5 record. But a 0-5-1 January sent UMass in a downward spiral that continued into February (2-6-2), ending the season at 15-18-3.

Over winter break, it will be a priority for UMass to build some momentum during the month of January to carry them through the stretch run of the season. Here is a look at the schedule they will face in between semesters.

Dec. 29 vs. Union

The second to last non-conference game for the Minutemen and the opening round of the UConn Tournament. UMass will take on the No. 20 Dutchmen – the first top 20 ranking for UC in nine years – that has played well early this year. UC (7-3-5, 3-0-3 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) has a 3-3 tie with No. 8 Yale and most recently a 2-2 with No. 5 Cornell on its resume.

Dec. 30 vs. UConn/Bentley

Host UConn will square off with Bentley, with the winner advancing to the finals of the UConn Tournament and the other to the consolation game. If UMass comes out on top of Union, they’ll face the winner between the two in its final non-conference game. Taking the tournament would give the Minutemen some momentum heading into January and the remainder of its Hockey East Schedule.

Jan. 2 at Boston University

The Terriers don’t have the No. 2 ranking they had when UMass beat them 3-2 earlier this season, and few expected them to be in second-to-last place in the Hockey East at this point in the season. But they still can’t be overlooked, because they are the defending national champions.

BU has dropped from the rankings, but it has played strong at times –  a 5-4 overtime victory at UMass Lowell and a 3-3 tie to New Hampshire. UMass coach Don Cahoon will not let the Minutemen look past this team, especially with it being the middle game of a five game road trip.

Jan. 9 at New Hampshire

The Minutemen split with UNH in the middle of November at home, but the No. 19 Wildcats have become a new team since then. Going 4-0-1 since then has propelled UNH into the national rankings and to the top of the Hockey East standings. The Wildcats have also protected their home ice well this season, going 4-1-2 in Durham with wins over UMass Lowell and BU and ties against Miami (Ohio) and Boston College.

Jan. 10 at Northeastern

This will be the first meeting of the year for these two squads, and the final game of UMass five-game road trip. While the Huskies have a sub-.500 record overall and in Hockey East, they currently sit just one point behind UMass in the conference standings, but have played two more games.

Despite the long road trip, finishing strong against the Wildcats and Huskies will allow the Minutemen to pull closer or further away from some teams, as they push to finish in the top four spots in the standings to host the first round of the Hockey East Tournament.

Jan. 15/16 vs. UMass Lowell

When UMass traveled to Lowell last weekend to face No. 9 UMass Lowell, it didn’t go as planned. Despite tying the game up in the third period, two late goals by the River Hawks put the game out of reach.

With the schools only separated by one point in the standings – with UML having played an additional game so far – it would not come as a surprise if these games play a large role in the standings.

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at jlarnard@dailycollegian.com.

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