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Minutemen dealing with inconsistencies

hockCDuring winter term, the Massachusetts hockey team continued problems from the first half of the season, along with adding inconsistencies on both sides of the puck to begin 2010.

The Minutemen (14-8-0, 7-6-0 Hockey East), who have struggled to play a full 60 minutes of hockey at times this season, had trouble in single periods in their three losses.

In its 4-1 loss to Bentley in the UConn Hockey Classic Championship Game, UMass kept the score knotted at one despite outshooting the Falcons 35-10 after two periods. In the final frame, the Minutemen allowed three goals, putting the game out of reach.

Against Boston University, UMass was once again outplayed in the last period as the Terriers scored three goals to put the game on ice for a win.

The third consecutive loss for the Minutemen was caused by a poor start, as New Hampshire came out of the gates with four scores in the opening period to give UMass an insurmountable deficit.

Normally a strong squad in the later stages of the game, half of the third period goals (18) allowed by the Minutemen this season came in the last four contests. Nevertheless, UMass is tied with UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East for the second-fewest goals given up in the final frame.

Power play inconsistent

On offense, the power-play unit for the Minutemen has been erratic in the last five contests prior to this weekend’s set with UMass-Lowell. Though the UMass man advantage scored six goals, it was held scoreless in three games. All six scores came in two games which resulted in a loss against BU and a win against Northeastern.

In the Hockey East, UMass ranks second in power-play goals with 25, and second in power-play percentage, with a 25.8 success rate.

Meyers’ return unsuccessful

Though Dan Meyers came into his final season at UMass in contention with Paul Dainton for playing time between the pipes, he has had difficulties regaining his 2008 form when he averaged 2.65 goals-against in 14 contests.

After beginning his senior year with two victories in his first two games against Niagara and Yale, Meyers was benched after allowing three goals in the first period to Quinnipiac in a 5-4 overtime loss on Nov. 28.

Meyers did not see action again until he returned to start against New Hampshire on Jan. 9, following two losses by Paul Dainton in which Dainton allowed 11 total goals.

Despite making 26 saves, Meyers struggled again in the first period, allowing four goals and seven total for the game as the Minutemen fell 7-2 to the Wildcats.

Ortiz, Marcou, Wellman doing damage

In the last five games prior to the Minutemen’s two games with the Riverhawks, Will Ortiz, James Marcou and Casey Wellman have contributed to UMass’ offense, each tallying at least five points over that span.

Marcou continued to pour on assists, recording seven to give him a nation-leading 28 assists and 34 points.

Ortiz and Wellman were named UMass/Dinn Bros. Athlete of the Week in consecutive weeks, each playing a significant role in victories.

After scoring three goals and adding two assists in three games, Wellman was awarded the honor for his play. His two scores, including a game-winner, gave the Minutemen a 4-3 win over Union in the opening game of the UConn Hockey Classic.

Wellman’s 17 goals tie him with Michigan State’s Corey Tropp for first in the nation, despite playing four fewer contests.

Ortiz received the honor after helping UMass snap a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win against Northeastern, in which he tallied a goal and two assists.

The three-point game for Ortiz gave him a total of 10 goals and 11 assists for the season, tying his career-high of 21 points he set in his freshman year.

Jay Asser can be reached at jasser@student.umass.edu.

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