UMass club hockey hoping for two victories this weekend

By Ryan Ames

(Collegian File Photo)
(Collegian File Photo)

After a break in action due to the Thanksgiving break, the Massachusetts club hockey team returns to play this weekend, facing off against two formidable opponents.

On Friday, the Minutemen (9-4) will host Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the Mullins Center before hitting the road on Saturday to battle Connecticut.

UMass has won three out of its last four games and is aiming to end the first half of the season on a strong note with winter break just a couple of weeks away. And after an overtime loss to No. 1 William Paterson in their last game, the Minutemen will be eager to get back in the win column.

Compared to its 7-1 record away from UMass, the Minutemen are 2-3 on their home ice, and will look to at least get back to .500 on friendly territory with a rematch against RPI.

Friday’s game at home will be no easy task for UMass, even though the Minutemen beat the Engineers quite handily the last time these two squads faced off in late October, with UMass coming away with a 6-2 victory.

In that contest, the Minutemen were led by a combination of players recording two-point nights. Junior defenseman Allan Haynes potted two goals, seniors Mark Fidler and Alex Rojas dished out two assists each, and freshman Chris Fidler netted a goal and an assist of his own. Sophomore goaltender Connor Walker stood tall in net, playing the entire 60 minutes to seal the win for UMass.

Following this loss however, the Engineers (9-8-1) have played well, going 5-3 in the eight-game stretch since the initial meeting between the two, including a dominant 11-1 victory over Montclair State. Leading the charge for RPI is junior forward Kyle DeVault, who enters the game with a team-high 24 points, and freshman goaltender Liam McBain, who boasts a 5-5-1 record.

With Saturday marking the first matchup between the Minutemen and the Huskies (13-4), both teams will want to come away with the win.

UConn enters the matchup on a bit of a hot streak, winning four out of its last five games. At the forefront of the Huskies’ success are defenseman Christian Neumann, who leads the team in points with 18, and goaltender Christian O’Shea, who has an 8-1 record in 10 appearances for UConn.

On Monday, the ACHA released its official Division 2 rankings for the second time this year, with both of UMass’ opponents this weekend ranked. The Minutemen ranked the highest out of the three schools coming in at number five, and were followed by the Engineers at No. 7, while the Huskies came in at No. 12.

Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, with Saturday’s contest set for an 8:45 p.m. start in Bolton, Connecticut.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected]