Scrolling Headlines:

: Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

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

Minutemen head to Maine for pivotal weekend of play

To say the Massachusetts hockey team faces its most significant weekend of the season would be an understatement.

Fighting for a chance to earn a spot in the Hockey East Tournament, UMass heads on the road for a pair of games against Maine, with its playoff fate on the line.

Sitting in ninth in the standings, the Minutemen (16-16-0, 11-14-0 HEA) are a point behind Merrimack for eighth place and two points behind Boston University, Northeastern and Vermont, who are all tied for fifth.

The No. 17-ranked Black Bears (16-13-3, 13-10-2 HEA), meanwhile, are third in Hockey East behind Boston College and conference leader New Hampshire.

Though Maine has already gained a berth in the Hockey East Tournament, UMass coach Don Cahoon knows that the Black Bears still have something to play for.

“They’re fighting as hard as we’re fighting, they’re fighting for home ice and they know that’s such a big part of success in the playoff structure,” Cahoon said before Wednesday’s practice. “There’s always the exception to the rule, but that’s a big advantage.”

The Minutemen have won the last three meetings with Maine, including the 5-3 victory on Oct. 23 earlier this season. All those wins, however, came at the Mullins Center. UMass has dropped seven straight contests at Alfond Arena, with the last win coming in the 2003-04 season.

“The environment is just crazy,” Cahoon said. “It’s a tough place to play, and you just have to block everything out and compete.”

All-time, the Black Bears lead the series with the Minutemen, 39-14-5, dating back to 1978, when Maine won 13 of the first 14 meetings. Since 2005, however, the series has been more even, with UMass holding an 8-7-1 edge.

In their last game, the Minutemen were unable to break their losing streak, dropping their sixth straight in a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker at Conte Forum against BC. UMass received its only goal from senior Brett Watson, who scored his first goal in 82 games. At the two minute, two second mark in the extra frame, Chris Kreider scored the game-winning shot for the Eagles.

Junior goaltender Paul Dainton recorded 31 saves in the loss, while Parker Milner made 34 stops for BC.

“Friday’s game was a terrific effort and could have gone either way,” Cahoon said. “It was a game that we were in every bit of a position to win as BC, but the bottom line is we didn’t get the win. Building off of it, I think it’s a quick refresher off of how we need to play to be in the mix.”

Maine, meanwhile, split its weekend’s road contests against Merrimack in North Andover. On Friday night, the Warriors scored six goals en route to a 6-3 win over the Black Bears. The following night, Maine responded with an offensive outpour of its own to defeat Merrimack, 5-1.

Sophomore Gustav Nyquist scored two goals and added two assists to lead the Black Bears’ attack, while freshman goaltender Shawn Sirman made 24 saves and allowed only one goal to pick up his first collegiate win.

Though Maine and UMass have seemingly switched places since the last meeting between the two teams, Cahoon realizes his squad can atone for its recent struggles with wins this weekend.

“We need to just take care of this weekend. About a month ago we were in second place, and now here we are sitting in ninth place,” Cahoon said. “I don’t go there and don’t persuade my guys to go there, they just need to take care of what’s right in front of them and go forward.”

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

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