UMass hockey set for trip to Michigan State

By Ross Gienieczko

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(Courtesy of Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

There are two ways a team can respond to blowout loss: one is to look back at the game, study it and see what broke down, and the other is to forget it ever happened and move on completely.

In wake of its 8-1 loss to Boston University on the opening night of the season, the Massachusetts hockey team is doing a little of both.

“You have to separate yourself from the emotional part of (the loss),” head coach John Micheletto said. “(We need to) look back and use video, and make sure that in the early part of the season you’re addressing the things that need to be addressed.”

Senior captain Troy Power agreed.

“We have to take the good and the bad, we have to learn from our mistakes,” Power said. “But we have to move forward.”

Moving forward means a weekend trip to East Lansing, Michigan for a two game set against Michigan State. UMass (0-1, 0-1 Hockey East) won twice against the Spartans last season, when both games were played in Amherst at Mullins Center. This time, the Minutemen will be on the road and in a more hostile environment – it’s the season opener for the Spartans.

“Last year, we took two from them here, and I’m sure they’re going to be looking to do the same,” Power said. “So we’re going to have to make sure we’re ready to go … It’s going to be a business trip.”

It was a fortuitous weekend for several Minutemen in the two game series last year. Goaltender Steve Mastalerz picked up both wins in net, allowing just three goals on the weekend. On the offensive side, Power, Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi all had three points in the wins.

After a thrashing by the Terriers last Friday night, UMass would like to get back to the level they performed at last year against the Spartans. Although, the Minutemen are not there yet, Micheletto has liked the way his team has responded in practice after their season opening defeat.

“For three days in a row we’ve gotten after it,” Micheletto said. “Guys have had good energy and good competitiveness.”

Part of that competitiveness, according to Micheletto, stems from the lingering effects of the loss against BU.

“(The team) didn’t like it, they were embarrassed by it,” Micheletto admitted. “The only thing you can do at that point is turn around and have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder and want to prove everybody wrong the next time out.”

One area the Minutemen hope to improve their power play, which was 0-3 against the Terriers that could have changed the complexion of the game before BU’s third period explosion – UMass ranked seventh in the country last year in power play. It was also a big part of their wins against Michigan State, as the Minutemen scored five power play goals against the Spartans, including four in the second game of the back-to-back.. While it’s not realistic to expect five power play goals every weekend, both Micheletto and Power said it was important for UMass to get consistent production on the man advantage.

“It’s very important,” Micheletto said. “Teams are going to take penalties, and you want to make them pay.”

“Any time you can win the special teams battle, it’s going to be beneficial to your success as a team,” Power added. “(Our power play) is something that we definitely work on, it’s something that we pride ourselves in and something that we definitely have to be better at.”

The series against Michigan State is a huge opportunity for the Minutemen. They have two chances to rebound from their season opening loss in a low risk, non conference setting. But according to Power, the goal for this weekend is still the same – to win.

“If everyone comes to work… and to win a hockey game, we’re hopefully going to take care of business on Friday.”

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RossGien.