April 17, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five places to study at UMass -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UMass tennis team battles injuries as season comes to an end -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Getting back to a defensive state of mind

The Massachusetts hockey team will look to get back to a defensive state of mind when it hosts Ivy League power Yale Wednesday night at the Mullins Center.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

UMass has struggled in various defensive aspects throughout the season, which through 15 games, is soon reaching the mid-point. Whether it’s been getting back on transition rushes in their own zone, getting mismatched on assignments off face-offs or getting beat along the boards for puck control, the Minutemen need to realize that a good defense can generate offensive opportunities.

“Last week [in practice], we really worked on transition breakouts, just having clean transition, going back on offense,” said sophomore defenseman Adam Phillips on the team’s focus as of late. Phillips scored a goal to help UMass skate to a 4-4 draw against Harvard last Friday.

“We’ve played well at trying to get the puck to the middle of the ice … we worked at getting all five guys to break the puck out,” added Phillips.

One issue plaguing the UMass defense is its youth. With five sophomores getting significant playing time, there’s little room for them to go through growing pains.

Phillips, who played in 33 games a freshman, put up 10 goals and five assists, recording three multi-point games. Now in his sophomore year, Phillips has struggled to not just improve on his offensive game that caught attention last season, but he’s struggling to find his game altogether.

However, despite Phillips’ first goal of the season coming nearly halfway through the season, the sophomore’s physical play on both ends may be an indicator that his game may be coming back.

“Overall, I feel like we can be a pretty offensive group as defensemen,” said Phillips.” I just hope that we keep that going.”

As a unit, the defense is littered with inexperienced underclassmen. Outside of one junior and senior, the defense consists of four sophomores, a redshirt sophomore and one freshman. Despite its evident growing pains, however, senior defenseman Michael Marcou said he believes the unit is coming along.

“We have a pretty solid defensive core,” said Marcou.

Another phase of the game to improve upon that will help the cause going forward is keeping penalties in check.

As a whole, defensemen on the team have racked up 39 total penalties for a combined 89 minutes. In Friday’s contest against Harvard, UMass committed eight penalties, two of which came from defensemen.

“It’s tough to play the whole period a man down,” said Marcou of the Crimson’s two power play goals on three opportunities in the second period.

Phillips, along with fellow sophomores Colin Shea and Joe Hanley all played in 28 or more games last season. They hit the ground running as freshmen and experienced growing pains as the Minutemen amounted just a 6-23-6 record, a rebuilding year considering the senior loss from the year before.

“I think calling our team young is a little overplayed now,” said Marcou. “I think everyone has enough games on their belt and enough experience to go out and [play well] game in and game out.”

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at scournoy@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cournoyer.

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