UMass hockey riding the wave of Ryan Wischow

By Ryan Ames

(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

Ryan Wischow’s sophomore season for the Massachusetts hockey team has started unconventionally, to say the least.

The sophomore goaltender is in the midst of a two-game win streak in which the Green Bay native stoned the competition (read as: Quinnipiac,) to propel UMass to its two biggest wins of the season.

Wischow turned aside 79 of the Bobcats’ 83 total shots over the weekend set and earned Hockey East Player of the Week honors following his stellar play in the Minutemen cage.

Before his two victories this past weekend, Wischow had to watch fellow teammate Matt Murray from the bench for a good chunk of October, as the freshman netminder started six of the first eight contests of the year for UMass (7-6-0, 2-3-0 Hockey East Association) and snatched three wins.

Wischow lost his first start of the season in the Minutemen’s 5-3 loss to Arizona State, Oct. 6 on opening night, but then rebounded in UMass’ 5-4 victory at Union a week later. Despite the win over the Dutchmen, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder didn’t see the ice again until Nov. 3 when he entered a game that the Minutemen trailed 3-0 in the second period against New Hampshire after Murray struggled in the first 20 minutes.

Since then Wischow has turned it on, winning all of his next three consecutive starts and has assembled 112 saves over the dominating stretch.

“Yeah I mean, when he calls my number to play, I just try to play the best I can,” Wischow said when asked if he feels now is the time to take the No. 1 goalie job. “You try not to worry about those things. You know, you just try to play as best as you can in practice and prepare mentally then when coach says you’re in you just try and do your best.”

A goalie on his game is critical to the success of his hockey team, and with a 2.67 goals against average combined with a .920 save percentage to date, Wischow has personified that long-held belief for the Minutemen.

“It’s such an important part of the sport,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I mean no other sport has influential players. If your goaltender is not very good, you can’t be good. When your goaltender is really good, it’s hard to lose. I think as a staff we were just hoping to get average to above-average and if we can get above-average to really good that makes us a dangerous team.”

Minutemen assistant coach and goalie coach Jared DeMichiel feels Wischow’s recent rise in the blue paint stemmed from his relief appearance against UNH earlier this month.

“I would probably say the game he came in off the bench, he’s been playing pretty much since then,” DeMichiel said. “It started in practice. He’s playing very hard, he’s working to see pucks, I think that’s where it all started.  Then that’s where it leads to giving him confidence in the game and just kind of taking it from there.

“He’s making maybe that second and third save and what not,” DeMichiel said. “He’s obviously getting some help from the guys that are working hard to block shots and get in shooting lanes. But there’s definitely some fire and passion in his game. When he plays that way he’s a very, very good goalie.”

The next test for Wischow and UMass lies in Connecticut and the former Fargo Force (United States Hockey League) puck-stopper sees the importance in the upcoming pair with the Huskies (6-10-2, 4-6-1 HEA) and how a strong performance can ease any doubts that may lie with his game-to-game consistency.

“It’s always big to keep the ball rolling when you’re hot, you just want to keep playing every single game until you cool down, but it’s not my decision,” Wischow said on his next start. “You just roll with the punches and whatever happens, happens, but yeah you just try to prepare every week in practice, do the little things, and then see what happens in the games.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.