Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey looks to take full advantage of two weeks off until facing Army

By Nick Souza

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(Jong Man Kim/Collegian)

(Jong Man Kim/Collegian)

The Massachusetts hockey team has plenty to unpack following an up and down weekend, splitting the season opening series against Colorado College.

Following an impressive shut out performance on Friday night, UMass (1-1) suffered a let down the very next night, conceding three goals in the first eight minutes of play.

Saturday’s 7-4 loss to the Tigers (1-1) exposed issues for the Minutemen, and it may not be a bad thing, according to UMass coach Greg Carvel.

“I’m kind of glad we lost the game on Saturday,” Carvel said. “It made us aware that there’s a lot that needs to be worked on. If we had won both those games, we probably wouldn’t have gotten as much out of these next two weeks of practice.”

Carvel stressed the importance of the next two weeks of practice for the Minutemen to focus on themselves rather than thinking about the game against Army in 10 days.

“We won’t worry about Army until the day before we play them,” Carvel said. “I’m more worried about my team than the opponents this year. There’s a certain game and a certain level we need to play at, and if we’re not there than it doesn’t really matter who we play.”

The stat book doesn’t really do the sharp contrast of UMass’ weekend games justice.

Both the Minutemen and CC combined for seven goals in the 120 minutes of ice time despite the Tigers averaging twice as many shots (36 to 18). UMass also got into penalty issues, with 18 minors adding up to 36 minutes in the box, but that was only one more than CC.

Any clear separation of the two teams beyond the scoreboard could only be noticed from being there in person, or better yet, having access to the kind of game film that players and coaches have.

“I think as a staff we came away feeling that we have to learn how to compete at a high level more consistently,” Carvel said. “You know it’s a process to learn how to prepare correctly, mentally, physically and emotionally.”

“We learned Saturday that this group has a long way to go as far as respecting your opponent, and being mentally prepared. Then there’s also the physical part and playing the system the right way, and these guys are all new to the system and it takes time.”

From the player’s perspective, there is just as much honest self reflection for how the Minutemen need to build off of what they learned about themselves over the weekend.

“I think one area we are going to focus on is upping our compete level in all areas,” senior captain and UMass forward Steven Iacobellis said. “Doing the little things on the ice that can make a big difference and can change the game for any team.”

Iacobellis was one of the six Minutemen to score over the weekend, and while the loss did expose problems for UMass—particularly on the back end—it did find the back of the net throughout the weekend.

“Knowing we can score some goals is good,” Iacobellis said. “But we have to keep the puck out of our net.”

The Minutemen’s ability to build on the first two games of the season over the next two weeks will go a long way in determining what kind of season they have. While not much is expected from UMass, it can still measure progress from game-to-game without getting caught up in the end result. If it can achieve the level of play that Carvel is aiming for, wins should come.

The Minutemen are set to drop puck against the Black Knights on Friday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @nicksouza27.

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