UMass looks to maintain discipline in Tuesday’s tilt at Boston College

UMass looks to maintain discipline in Tuesday’s tilt at Boston College

By Liam Flaherty

The Massachusetts hockey team travels to Chestnut Hill on Tuesday to face off with Boston College in a significant second half Hockey East Association matchup.

The Minutemen (11-11-1, 5-7-1 HEA) are coming off a split with Northeastern over the weekend and enter the midweek matchup with the Eagles (11-9-3, 11-4-0 HEA) looking to bounce back from a subpar showing on night two of the home-and-home series.

On Friday, UMass played its first game in the previous eight back on home ice and put together a complete 60-minute performance that shut out the Huskies and their high-powered attack for the first time this season. In Boston on Saturday, NU got its revenge by putting together a shutout of its own against the Minutemen, led by a hat trick from senior forward Nolan Stevens.

Following the loss, UMass coach Greg Carvel admitted that his team appeared to lack energy coming off one of the most notable victories the program has seen in recent years.

“We haven’t skated since [Saturday], but I’m guessing we’ll be prepared against a really good team on the road,” Carvel said prior to the Minutemen’s arrival in Boston on Monday. “We’ve learned our lessons, we’ve got to play a certain way against skilled teams or they’re going to put goals up against us.”

In the midst of playing three games over a five-day span, UMass is facing its stiffest and most challenging competition of the regular season thus far.

“Every game is a good opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves and to grow as a team,” Carvel said. “We’ve got a tough road schedule here against the top teams in our league, but you can either look at that as being victim to it or as an opportunity. It’ll be a challenge and I’ll challenge my guys and they don’t usually let me down. It should be a good hockey game.”

Carvel continues to stress the importance of disciplined 5-on-5 play, and stressed how staying out of the box is a primary concern for the Minutemen and their success moving forward.

“When you play the really good teams, you have to stay out of the penalty box,” Carvel said. “I don’t care what their power play is ranked, if you give a power play enough chances, the chances will catch up with you.”

On Friday against the Huskies, the Minutemen only committed two minor penalties and were able to successfully shut down the number one scoring offense in all of Hockey East (3.58 goals per game). On Saturday, however, NU drew five calls on UMass players, which allowed its explosive offense plenty of time to find a rhythm and later capitalize on even strength.

“If we’re competing and playing the right way, then I think that’s the standard we try to bring every night and as that standard gets better and better, penalties will go down at the same time,” Carvel said. “It’s part of the growth of the team to learn how to play and not take penalties. For the most part, I think we’re becoming a more disciplined team.”

The Minutemen will certainly need to play a disciplined game on Tuesday when they travel to take on BC, which is led on the attack by an assortment of sophomore skaters.

Forward Graham McPhee leads the Eagles with eight goals on the season and is third in points on the squad with 15 through 23 regular season contests.

Fellow second-year forwards Julius Mattila and David Cotton are tied when it comes to point production, each totaling 18 on six goals and 12 helpers.

Another significant contributor for the Eagles comes in freshman forward Logan Hutsko, who has compiled four goals and 10 assists through his first season.

Puck drop at the Conte Forum is set for 7 p.m.

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.