September 21, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football blown out in all phases against Penn State -

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Penn State rushes over UMass football 48-7 -

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Luke Pavone jumpstarts UMass men’s soccer’s comeback effort in win over Fairfield -

Saturday, September 20, 2014

UMass men’s soccer earns first win of the season in emotional home opener -

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ed Davis report leaves nobody blameless -

Friday, September 19, 2014

White House starts public awareness drive to prevent sexual attacks on campus -

Friday, September 19, 2014

Work already underway for SGA speaker Sïonan Barrett -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UMass in for a challenge against Penn State, QB Hackenberg -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nostalgia and angst abound in ‘Palo Alto’ -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Want student power? End the SGA -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UMass football kicking situation still undecided, looking forward to opportunity to play at Beaver Stadium -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lorenzo Woodley finds opportunity after getting lost in the shuffle -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Millennials’ votes can make a difference in all elections -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UMass faculty member Bonnie Strickland recognized for work in psychology -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UMass women’s soccer suffers major set back with injury to co-captain Jackie Bruno -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UMass men’s soccer returns home looking for season’s first win -

Thursday, September 18, 2014

UMass professor Elizabeth Chilton to speak in Madrid and Paris about importance of heritage studies -

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

UMass club rugby hopes to continue momentum despite opening loss -

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bizarre foods eaten worldwide -

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

US should spend more on space -

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Power play a strength for UMass this season

Collegian File Photo

The Massachusetts hockey team has made its fair share of improvements this  season, but perhaps the biggest of all is its special teams play.

Last year, the Minutemen struggled on both the power play and its penalty kill, finishing sixth in Hockey East  with a power play percentage of 18.2 percent and ninth on the penalty kill at 76.1 percent.

But in UMass’ first 11 games this season, it has drastically improved in both areas. The Minutemen (4-5-2, 3-5-1 HEA) now boast the second-best power play percentage in Hockey East at 21.4 percent and the fourth best penalty kill at 86 percent.

The players credit the new system implemented by first-year UMass coach John Micheletto as a key reason for these improvements.

“Our system is definitely different,” junior forward Conor Sheary said. “We kind of go out there and make plays, there’s not much that we set in place. I think we have a lot of chemistry out there.”

Micheletto had experience working on special teams while he was an assistant coach at Vermont, where he switched off each year coaching the penalty kill and the power play.

He brought his special team’s philosophy along with him to the Minutemen, but as a coach, he said he has to play to the strengths of his current players.

“You’re always trying to identify the strengths of the players that you are working with,” Micheletto said. “It’s also just creating an air of creativity and constantly pushing your guys to not play with fear, which sometimes can be difficult on the power play. It can be such a momentum builder and it can also be a momentum crusher. “

So far, special teams have been a momentum builder for UMass. Twelve of the Minutemen’s 29 goals this season have been scored on the power play. They also scored twice on short-handed opportunities and once on a penalty shot.

Sheary has played a vital role in five of UMass’ power play goals and also knocked in a short-handed goal last Saturday in a 2-2 tie with Quinnipiac. He leads the Minutemen in power play points with five, all of which came on assists.

He attributed not only his own success on the power play, but the chemistry he has built on the man advantage with fellow juniors Troy Power and Michael Periera over the years.

“The chemistry is the biggest thing I think,” he said. “Me, Mike  and Troy  have been working together for a while now and I think we’re doing a good job.

“We’ve been working with pretty much the same unit, the same guys for three years now,” he said. “We had some more success last year than we did the year before and again this year we are obviously really clicking.”

Pereira and Power have also contributed to the much-improved power play. Pereira is tied for the team lead in power play goals with two and Power has three assists on the man-advantage.

Injury Updates

Micheletto didn’t have any updates on the status of injured players Shane Walsh or Evan Stack Tuesday at practice.

Walsh did skate before the team took the ice, but Micheletto said he doesn’t know if either player will play this weekend.

“They are on the path towards recovery,” he said, “whether that will be Friday, Saturday or next weekend, I don’t know.”

The Minutemen play a home-and-home series with Northeastern this weekend starting on Friday at the Mullins Center.

Neither player has played since UMass’ 4-0 win against Providence on Nov. 9. Walsh’s injury is described as a lower-body injury, while Stack’s is an upper-body one.

 

Cameron McDonough can be reached at cameronm@student.umass.edu and followed on twitter @MDC_McDonough.

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