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Monday, April 27, 2015

Minutemen hit the road in search of series wins

The Massachusetts hockey team will seek revenge and will attempt to claim the rubber match of series against Hockey East opponents Boston University and Providence this weekend. 

Both the Terriers (8-11-3, 6-9-2 HEA) and Friars (9-13-1, 4-11-1 HEA) handed the No. 15 Minutemen (15-9-0, 10-7-0 HEA) losses in their last matchup after UMass got the better of both teams in the first meeting. 

After defeating then-No. 2 BU, 3-2, in their second game of the season, the Minutemen had one of their worst performances of the year in a 7-3 loss to the Terriers. Though UMass scored three power-play goals in the contest, BU equaled the amount in half the chances (six). Goaltender Paul Dainton had his worst performance, giving up six scores while making 22 saves. 

Since that game, the junior has played well and was a major factor in a four-game winning streak for the Minutemen prior to their loss to Vermont. 

UMass coach Don Cahoon realizes his team was out-played and physically beaten by the Terriers in their last meeting, but feels they are playing much better of late. 

“The difference in the last BU game and the first game was the physicality,” Cahoon said. “They physically took us out of the game, they finished every check, knocked us around, they tried to intimidate us in their building, and we’re playing in their building again so I expect much of the same. How we stand up to that and how we perform under those conditions will go a long way to determine what we’re able to get done.” 

Cahoon, however, dismissed the idea that the loss to the Terriers will have any effect on the matchup this weekend. As far as he is concerned, that loss is well behind the team. 

“We know what the reasons were for playing that way, so now what we have to do is to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Cahoon said. “That clearly is out of our minds now, it’s not about that game anymore, it’s about Friday night.” 

Providence, meanwhile, enters the weekend in the midst of a three-game losing streak, having dropped nine of its last 11 contests. The Friars sit in the basement of the Hockey East, one point behind Merrimack. 

In their last meeting, Providence handed UMass its first loss of the season at the Mullins Center, after the Minutemen began the season with three consecutive victories, including a win in Rhode Island the previous night. The score was tied after the first two periods of play, but the Friars overpowered UMass in the final frame, outscoring the Minutemen 3-1 to take the 5-3 win. 

Despite this seeming like a game that UMass should win, Cahoon isn’t dismissing the possibility of a challenge on the road. 

“In the Providence game, we’ll both be coming off games the night before and it’s hard to even envision what our mind-set is going to be based on the night before,” Cahoon said. “They’re a solid team and they’re particularly tough at home, so we’ll have to be playing really well. Whatever transpires on Friday against BU, we’ll have to put it aside and be able to go out and take care of business the next day.”

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

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