Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey returns home Tuesday to try and end seven-game losing streak

By Nick Souza

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Caroline OConnor/Collegian

(Caroline O’Connor/Collegian)

The Massachusetts hockey team is gearing up for its third game in five days on Tuesday, an unfortunate circumstance which sometimes comes with scheduling games in college hockey.

Add to it the fact that Northeastern is coming off a three-game winning streak—including a 4-3 win over No. 10 UMass Lowell on Friday—and UMass (5-19-2, 2-11-1 Hockey East) is facing another difficult task in a difficult stretch of the 2016-17 season.

The Huskies (10-10-5, 4-8-3 HEA) will have an extra day of rest following the Minutemen’s difficult back-to-back series on the road against Maine over the weekend.

While UMass coach Greg Carvel recognizes the disadvantage for his team, he still expects the same level of effort.

“We’ll have to be a team that comes ready to play,” he said. “I don’t want to make excuses for our team. The rest is a disadvantage, but it can be overcome.”

The Minutemen’s recent results contrast sharply with Northeastern, as UMass will head into Tuesday’s game riding a seven-game losing streak.

While the UMass offense has been much maligned throughout the season, NU’s unit ranks at the top of the Hockey East in goals per game this year thus far (3.52).

“They’re a very skilled team,” Carvel said when asked about NU’s statically potent offense. “They’re skilled offensively and they possess the puck well. That stat doesn’t really surprise me.”

The Huskies have managed to score four goals in each of their last three victories. Meanwhile, UMass has mustered just a single goal in each of its last four games.

A large portion of NU’s offensive production comes from three players. Forwards Zach Aston-Reese (41 points, 22 goals, 19 assists), Dylan Sikura (41 points, 16 goals, 25 assists) and Adam Gaudette (36 points, 13 goals, 23 assists) each rank in the top five of the conference in scoring and Aston-Reese’s 22 leads all scorers in Hockey East.

Despite these impressive numbers, Carvel feels there is no need for the Minutemen to make any radical changes to their defensive systems.

“There’s not really any difference from any other team we play,” Carvel said. “We just have to be the best team we can be, and we can’t give up any free offense.”

Another major part of the game where the Huskies and UMass differ is on the power play.

The Minutemen have yet to score a power play goal in 2017, and currently have the lowest rated power play in the conference at just 9.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Northeastern converts on 24.8 percent of its chances, second only to the River Hawks in the conference.

Carvel implemented a few changes to the power play for UMass over the weekend, resulting in an uptick of shots on net with a combined 13 in two games.

“This past weekend I thought our power play generated a lot more scoring opportunities,” Carvel said. “We just haven’t been able to score yet. Still, I thought we passed the puck well and we got some good looks.”

The Minutemen finally being able to capitalize on those scoring chances while on the man advantage could prove to be vital on Tuesday against the Huskies.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at Mullins Center.

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

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