Friday night a chance at redemption for UMass hockey

By Jason Kates

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

After taking three of four possible points last weekend against Merrimack College, the Massachusetts hockey team will head to Boston to take on No. 2 Boston University Friday night.

When the two teams met Oct. 10 in Amherst for the season opener, the Terriers left the Mullins Center victorious in an 8-1 rout over the Minutemen.

But since the second half of the season began, UMass has looked like a vastly improved squad and are pleased with the way they’ve been playing.

“We’re definitely happy with our performance over the weekend and we definitely want to carry that throughout the week and into the game Friday,” said senior captain Troy Power.

Since returning from their shortened winter break, the Minutemen are a respectable 4-4-1. They’re still tied for last place in the conference, but sit just three points out of eighth place, which would guarantee UMass home ice-advantage in the first round of the Hockey East tournament.

Coach John Micheletto is excited about his team’s recent play, but knows how important it is to stay focused on the task at hand.

“We’ve obviously been playing well and got rewarded with some points in the league which is important,” he said.

“We know we need to get a couple of work days in before we head down to Agganis (Arena). They’re going to be ready to play so we need to make sure we bring our A game.”

Despite how the first meeting between these teams went, Power doesn’t think his teammates will be thinking about the previous encounter with BU too much, although the idea of revenge is present.

“We haven’t really touched on it too much,” he said. “Monday we did a split-skate with the forwards and defensemen skating at different times working on skill work. I think we’ll touch on it before Friday, I still think it’s in the back of everyone’s minds.”

Over the past three months, there has been clear growth from the Minutemen, especially the underclassmen.

“For both teams, we have a lot of youth, so I would imagine that both would be more disciplined in terms of how they want to play,” Micheletto said.

“I know we are, and I would imagine they’re the same way. Hopefully it’s an entertaining game and we get to play the way we want to play, which is important for us in terms of trying to have success.”

Power believes the team is a completely different version of the one BU routed back in October, with lessons learned over the course of the season a key factor in their growth.

“I think the maturity level between now versus back then is night-and-day,” he said.

“We’re a very young team, so the first half of the season there were a lot of lessons that we knew were going to happen. Especially coming back from break, guys know what to expect, know how this league works, and they know what they need to do to have individual success, as well as helping out the team.”

Since returning from break, talk of “turning a corner” and becoming better has picked up, and with a showdown versus the Terriers rapidly approaching, UMass now has a chance to prove it can compete against one of the best teams in the conference, and the country.

“I think right now we’re just focused on getting better every day, and continuing our process towards finishing the year strong and making improvements every game,” Power said.

“Right now it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and we’re looking to be the best team at the end of February and early March and carry that throughout the playoffs.”

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected] and followed @Jason_Kates.