November 29, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass looks ahead to 2015, for better or for worse -

Friday, November 28, 2014

UMass football falls 41-21 in season finale against Buffalo -

Friday, November 28, 2014

Minutemen defense comes up short in 41-21 loss to Buffalo -

Friday, November 28, 2014

UMass formally cuts ties with alumnus Bill Cosby -

Friday, November 28, 2014

Stanley Andre reflects on his career as Senior Day approaches -

Thursday, November 27, 2014

UMass tight end Jean Sifrin mulls future, potential NFL career -

Thursday, November 27, 2014

UMass basketball trounces Northeastern 79-54 -

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Students and staff discuss racial and social inequality following Ferguson decision -

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

UMass hockey falls to Vermont, 3-1 -

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No indictment for Ferguson cop -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chancellor addresses campus regarding grand jury decision in death of Michael Brown -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Northern Illinois hangs on against Ohio, Hunt carries Toledo to victory -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SGA passes 10 motions at meeting Monday night -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Students and UMPD work together during the annual ‘Walk for Light’ -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

‘Conscious Consumer’ talk promotes business sustainability -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UMass hockey looks to rebound against Vermont following Saturday’s blowout at home -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UMass women’s soccer’s Sverrisdóttir balances a soccer career between two different countries -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

‘First Demo’ provides a fascinating glimpse of Fugazi in its infancy -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My mental illness does define me (to an extent) -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to master multitasking -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Special teams responsible for highs and lows

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Call it what it is, the Massachusetts hockey team has been a streaky team all season. Currently on a two-game winning streak, UMass looks to harness a sense of consistency for the remainder of the season as it travels to Vermont this Friday for a two-game set.

Prior to their string of wins against UMass Lowell last weekend, the Minutemen (5-11-3, 4-6-3 Hockey East) were in the midst of a five-game losing streak, four of which came after the winter recess. Granted, all but one of those games featured an opponent ranked No. 15 or better in the country.

“We played great in a couple of those games in individual periods,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “But we weren’t able to sustain it, and that’s been one of my big missions, to get us to sustain high levels of play and not [have such] peaks and valleys within the course of the game.”

Cahoon attributed part of the team’s inconsistency to the sporadic play of special teams during that stretch.

“We would go out certain nights and just be horrific in penalty kill and then go out the next night and shut the opponent down,” he said. “It could be that the opponent that was shut down had the better power play, but our ability to lock in and focus has been a piece of the growth and development that we’re trying to put in place.”

The play during that five-game stretch reflected the peaks and valleys shown in their schedule at the time. Before the losing streak, UMass had created its first winning streak of the season, with three consecutive victories over Vermont, Quinnipiac and UMass Lowell from Nov. 23 to Dec. 4.

However, of late, the Minutemen have proved steadfast on special teams. The penalty kill is 14-of-14 over the last four games since allowing its last power play goal against Northeastern on Jan. 7.

So how can the team sustain the current streak and find some stability within those peaks and valleys?

“Practice hard every day, keep a positive outlook, try to give attention to detail and make everybody accountable on that front,” Cahoon said. “That’s what teachers do when you go out every day to rehearse. You drill, encourage and reprimand when you need to. Do all the things that try to get these [players] to hone in on each and every exercise.”

The Minutemen will get the next opportunity to implement these exercises on game day when they take on Vermont, which is also struggling to find consistency.

The Catamounts (4-12-4, 2-8-3 HEA) haven’t had a streak of any sort since they lost three in a row from Nov. 28 to Dec. 8 against Boston College, New Hampshire and Yale. Instead, it has alternated wins and losses for eight straight games.

The recent Achilles’ heel for the Catamounts has been the play of special teams.

“They have only given up one five-on-five goal in almost five games and they have been a real shut-down defensive team [over their last five games],” Cahoon said. “Any goals that they have given up have been on special teams or [with] an odd man lineup.”

None of Vermont’s losses within the last month have been by more than two goals.

As both of these teams continue to stabilize their weaknesses with their strengths, this weekend’s series could tell who is further along in their venture for consistency.

Pete Vasquez can be reached at pvasquez@student.umass.edu.

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