Scrolling Headlines:

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ryan Bamford uses online Q&A session to discuss UMass football conference search, renovation plans, cost of attendance -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Opening statements delivered, first witnesses called in second trial for alleged 2012 gang rape at UMass -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UMass Board of Trustees approves rise in tuition, student fees -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Former Minutewoman Quianna Diaz-Patterson named to Puerto Rican national softball team -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UMass rowing’s Jim Dietz inducted into CRCA Hall of Fame -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jury selection begins Monday in second gang rape trial -

Monday, June 15, 2015

Students turn attention to state legislators as decision on UMass budget looms -

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alumna and next director of Brooklyn Museum Anne Pasternak ‘created her own path’ -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

UMass graduate crowned head of 600-year-old Indian kingdom -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Committee recommends UMass increase tuition, student fees for in-state undergraduates -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Darrice Griffin named UMass’ senior associate athletic director for internal operations/senior woman administrator -

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Report: UMass football will host Mississippi State in 2016 -

Monday, June 8, 2015

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.

 

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