December 21, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Minutemen search for answers following blowout loss to Providence -

Saturday, December 20, 2014

UMass dominated in 85-65 loss to Providence -

Saturday, December 20, 2014

BLOG: UMass football recruiting roundup: UMass signs DT, offers two kickers -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass President Robert Caret resigns to become chancellor of the University of Maryland system -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brandon Montour: ‘It felt great to be out there’ -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass falls to Northeastern in Brandon Montour’s debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cady Lalanne continues to evolve as a potential outside shooting threat -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UMass hockey returns to action against Northeastern, Montour to make season debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demetrius Dyson remains hopeful despite rocky start to season -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former UMass soccer star Matt Keys aims to continue his career professionally -

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pierre-Louis, Dillard shine in UMass victory over Holy Cross -

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Passing, spacing improved in UMass victory -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prolific first half propels UMass past Canisius, 75-58 -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

UMass Faculty Senate hears ad hoc committee’s report on FBS football, shoots down contentious motion -

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Minutemen hope improved spacing will aid struggling half court offense -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Divest UMass urges Board of Trustees to split with fossil fuel industry -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cady Lalanne accustomed to dealing with increased attention -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Dec. 1, 2014 -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chiarelli: UMass basketball running out of time to find its identity -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Minutewomen take care of business against American -

Monday, December 8, 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.

Leave A Comment