Scrolling Headlines:

Former Canisius guard Zach Lewis to transfer to UMass -

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Letter: Deflate-Gate, where’s the air? -

Monday, May 18, 2015

Derrick Gordon announces he will transfer to Seton Hall -

Sunday, May 17, 2015

UMass baseball closes season out with series victory over George Mason -

Sunday, May 17, 2015

UMass to allow four student businesses to accept Dining Dollars next year -

Saturday, May 16, 2015

UMass baseball stymied by John Williams in loss to George Mason -

Friday, May 15, 2015

Jury sentences Tsarnaev to death -

Friday, May 15, 2015

Stop ignoring your white privilege -

Thursday, May 14, 2015

UMass basketball scheduled for showdown with Ole Miss in 2015 Holiday Showcase game -

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Letter: Wall is a regression towards racial inequality -

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

UMass falls to Fairfield in extra innings in final home game -

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UMass basketball recruit Marcquise Reed chooses Clemson -

Monday, May 11, 2015

UMass baseball drops Senior Day rubber match against URI -

Monday, May 11, 2015

Letter: Shocked at radio host’s ban from WMUA -

Monday, May 11, 2015

UMass women’s lacrosse falls in second round of NCAA tournament against top-seeded Maryland -

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Neil deGrasse Tyson: ‘It’s okay not to know’ -

Friday, May 8, 2015

Defense, Eipp’s five goals lead UMass women’s lacrosse past Jacksonville in NCAA tournament -

Friday, May 8, 2015

Quianna Diaz-Patterson closes book on historic senior season, successful career for UMass softball -

Friday, May 8, 2015

UMass men’s lacrosse overcomes early struggles to make 2015 playoff run -

Thursday, May 7, 2015

UMass softball fails to reach expectations in up-and-down 2015 season -

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Advertisement

UMass travels to UNH with playoff spot in question

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

The Massachusetts hockey team enters its second to last weekend of regular season play with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over its playoff future.

The Minutemen (11-17-2, 8-14-1 Hockey East Association) find themselves in the final eligible spot to make the Hockey East playoffs – eighth place – with only one point to spare.

After its weekend split with Maine last weekend at the Mullins Center, UMass is currently one point ahead of the Black Bears for the eighth seed with 17 points.

The Minutemen are also only four points clear of Northeastern, which sits in last place, with four games remaining.

Mathematically, UMass could still climb into seventh place  and perhaps gain a more favorable matchup in the playoffs.

But in order for the Minutemen to make the playoffs, they will first have to go through No. 5 New Hampshire (17-8-5, 12-7-4 HEA) this weekend with a pair of games on the road.

So, will UMass be focusing on all of this external pressure come Friday and Saturday night?

“You’re gonna watch a scoreboard, you’re gonna look at the standings, those things are inevitable no matter what because we’re all chasing the same prize,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “I don’t think guys have too much difficulty focusing on the task at hand.

“Everybody knows that we’ve got to win Friday night and then after that we’ll worry about Saturday night.”

But winning this weekend will be no easy task for UMass as it goes up against a nationally ranked Wildcats squad on their home ice.

This will be the first time the two sides have faced each other since Nov. 2, 2012. UMass handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season that night in a 2-1 overtime win at the Mullins Center.

The Wildcats are led defensively by sophomore goalie Casey DeSmith, who is fourth in the conference with a 2.20 goals against average.

“Offensively you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting second shots on this guy,” Micheletto said of  DeSmith. “With the way that he’s played over the course of the year, there’s no way to get around it.”

Whittemore Center is also a wider sheet than the Minutemen are used to playing on, which Micheletto said could cause some problems.

“That’s the danger of being on the big ice, is that sometimes you play too much on the perimeter and your shots come from the outside,” Micheletto said. “So we’ve got to make sure that we’re getting bodies in front of (DeSmith), bodies at the net to bang home second shots.”

DeSmith isn’t the only defensive force for the Wildcats entering Friday’s contest as the top scoring defense in Hockey East at 2.30 goals allowed per game. UMass is ninth in that category with 3.07 goals allowed per game.

UNH can also score, as it has averaged 3.20 goals per game, good for second in Hockey East. Some of its offensive leaders include Kevin Goumas (10 goals, 24 assists), Grayson Downing (12 goals, 13 assists), Trevor van Riemsdyk (7 goals, 18 assists) and Austin Block, who leads the team with his 13 goals.

Micheletto said the Wildcats are good at finding players away from the puck on offense and losing opposing defenders as they move towards the net for backdoor opportunities. He added that this makes mistake management important against them, but that they can’t overcompensate at the same time.

“One of the things, historically, as well as this year that they do very well is they make the ice they play on big ice offensively,” Micheletto said. “So we need to make sure we’re defending without getting overspread, but we’re making sure we’re defending at every point on the ice.”

Friday’s game is set to begin at 7:30 p.m., while Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Both games can be seen on WBIN or Fox College Sports Atlantic on television, or heard on the radio on AM 1400 or 1240 and on FM 96.9.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at cameronm@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.

 

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.