Depth, chemistry powers UMass club hockey

By Philip Sanzo

(Masstravel/ Flickr)
(Masstravel/ Flickr)

Late September means only one thing for the Massachusetts men’s club hockey team: the beginning of another season and chance to capture its ultimate goal, an American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship.

While the team has turned the page to a fresh season, it had little turnover on its roster from a season ago. Twenty-five members from last year’s squad, led by coach Jamie Magarian and assistant Joe Smith, return and are ready to get back to work. After a bitter loss in regionals last year, the team is “hungry to get further than that,” Smith said. It wants to “take a step forward.”

The Minutemen firmly believe that this is their year, and they’re already off to a strong start. While Smith said the team was “a little bit rusty” to start the season, the results didn’t show it. UMass exploded offensively over the weekend, beating Boston University and Providence, scoring 13 goals by seven different players in the process. Scott Cook and Adam Kmetz led the offensive charge with three goals each and goaltenders Luke Lepine and Connor Walker each picked up a victory in net.

All four lines contributed to the offensive outburst, and Smith said that depth was a major factor in UMass’ success. Having a team that is very deep in talent and experience allowed UMass to “roll four lines out there” and “play any situation,” Smith said.

While depth is one key factor for the Minutemen this season, Smith said their biggest competitive advantage is going to be team chemistry. In any sport, a team needs to work well together in order to perform its absolute best. UMass players understand Magarian’s system and are already comfortable playing together in it.

“The majority of the team knows the system,” Smith said. That gives the Minutemen a huge boost to start the season, as they don’t have to spend time learning something unfamiliar, like many club teams do.

For the new guys on the team, learning the system and playing collegiate hockey will take some getting used to. Smith cited the speed of college hockey as a big adjustment for younger players, and said decision-making needs to happen a lot faster.

UMass is bringing back a strong, battle-tested team from a year ago and Smith said there isn’t a player in the locker room who doubts their ability win a championship this season.

If their first weekend was any indication, the Minutemen are well on their way.
UMass will look to continue its success this Friday when it travels to New York City for a matchup with New York University at 8:30 p.m.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected]