Mass Attack successful on power play

By Nick O'Malley

With a scoring average of 3.86 goals per game, the Massachusetts hockey team boasts the top scoring average in the Hockey East and the fifth best mark in the nation. The bulk of the success, though, comes from UMass’ success on the power play.

The Minutemen have been lethal with the man advantage so far this season, converting 30 percent of their power plays into goals, a mark that’s good for sixth best in the country.

The offensive outburst thus far has brought fantastic results. After sweeping Niagara last weekend, UMass stands with a record of 6-1, 3-1 in Hockey East, and the No. 14 ranking in this week’s national rankings.

UMass coach Don Cahoon said his team has had so much success on the power play this season, “because we have good players.”

Cahoon offered praise for his power play unit: James Marcou, Casey Wellman, T.J. Syner, Martin Nolet and Justin Braun. With Syner out for last weekend and this upcoming series, Cahoon has had to plug in sophomore Danny Hobbs into Syner’s spot at left wing.

The results, though, were unchanged during last week’s series, which produced eight goals, one of which came on the power play. For the season, the production of the top group has been unprecedented. Of the top six spots in the conference in power-play scoring, four belong to Minutemen.

“I’ve never seen a good team not have good players,” Cahoon said. “I’ve seen a lot of teams play up to their ability, but you’re only going to be a very good team if you have very good players.”

UMass’ “Maroon” line of Marcou, Wellman and, with Syner injured, Hobbs has been particularly devastating. Marcou, the Hockey East Player of the Month for October, is tops in the conference and tied for sixth in scoring nationally with three goals and 10 assists on the season. Behind him, in a tie for third in Hockey East and tied with 10 others for 18th in scoring nationally is linemate Casey Wellman, who has four goals and seven assists.

Matt Irwin, meanwhile, has been the most prolific defenseman on the power play for UMass. The sophomore has taken advantage of his deadly slapshot to accumulate a team-high five goals on the season, four of which have come on the power play. Nolet and Braun, meanwhile, haven’t found the back of the net as often as Irwin, but have been key in moving the puck up and at the blue line, tallying six assists between them on the power play.

Battling bumps and bruises

While losing Syner is a major loss for the Minutemen, the return of junior Michael Lecomte in last week’s series and junior Chase Langeraap for this weekend is a good sign for a UMass lineup that had been shuffled around in recent games.

Lecomte scored two goals in his first game back from injury while Langeraasp looks to finally start producing after playing in only two games so far this season.

Still out for UMass is Rocco Carzo. The freshman was off to a hot start before getting injured. In his first five games, he has two goals and three assists.

Cahoon doesn’t foresee many big lineup changes with players coming off of injury. Replacing Syner at the left wing spot will be Hobbs, who had a solid performance last weekend against Niagara.

Cahoon has originally slated junior Marc Concannon for the spot after a strong week of practice. But, after early struggles, Cahoon gave the spot to Hobbs, who has performed well so far. Langeraap is expected to return to his old spot in the line with Lecomte and Will Ortiz.

Nick O’Malley can be reached at [email protected]