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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

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

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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