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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

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Men’s hockey rebounding towards conference

Coming off its largest victory margin of the season and with the arrival of the last leg of the season, the Massachusetts hockey team is beginning to see marked improvement as it continues to grow.

The 6-0 win over Vermont on Jan. 22 was the first shutout of the season for the Minutemen (6-12-3, 5-7-3 Hockey East) and their third win in the past four games. The six goals is the largest margin of victory ever against Vermont and the most goals UMass has scored in a game all season.

“We were really happy with the effort and how we rebounded from Friday night’s tough [2-1] loss,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We’re not naïve to think we’re six goals better than they are. We got off to a good start, put the pedal to the metal and they didn’t. We looked at our performance being a solid one.”

The speed of the Minutemen was also a great factor in that game, according to Cahoon, who is not used to conference matchups being so lopsided.

“You don’t have too many of those five or six-goal spreads [in this league],” Cahoon said. “It’s an anomaly.

“It was a great atmosphere on the bench,” he added. “That was fun to watch and good for the [players] to be a part of.”

Right now, UMass sits in seventh in the conference standings and is three points behind Northeastern, the next opponent in a home-and-home this weekend.

The players notice the steps they’ve taken since October, when it took the Minutemen 10 non-exhibition games to secure their first win. They’re starting to feel good as the rapidly approaching last third of the season features the upper tier of conference teams.

“There’s a level of confidence, which is good, but I don’t think we’re over confident or exuberant,” Cahoon said. “We’ve still got two [games] where the team that’s ahead of us is staring us right in the face. We’ve got to keep plugging away. We’ve got a young team that’s growing and they know they’re getting better. That’s a good thing.”

Three games against Boston College and Merrimack lie ahead, as well as two versus Maine and one against Boston University. These teams make up four of the top five spots in Hockey East and are all nationally ranked.

While the Minutemen took care of the Catamounts by utilizing impressive passing to score five goals in the first two periods and chasing Vermont goaltender Rob Madore from the game in the second period, they will have to sustain that high level of play in the coming weeks.

“Our heads are above water,” Cahoon said. “We’re not really where we need to be, but we’re hanging in there.

“We’ve got a huge undertaking staring us in the face, whether it be Northeastern this week or into the future with some of the opponents that we’ve got to play.”

Beginning Friday, UMass will have to contend with Northeastern’s physicality and attempt to evade it with speed.

Another fast start would be key for the Minutemen, as the Huskies have a minus-4 point differential in the first period against conference foes, compared to plus-2 and plus-5 in the second and third periods, respectively.

While UMass is not going to tout its decisive victory over Vermont, it can now look back at a night when it all fell into place. It was a night when all the gradual growth of the players showed its complete self on the ice.

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

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