Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen face No.1 Ohio State in first road series this season

UMass looks for redemption after last season’s Buckeye sweep

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Will Katcher/Collegian

Will Katcher/Collegian

Will Katcher/Collegian

By Mollie Walker, Assistant Sports Editor

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For the first time in program history, the Massachusetts hockey team travels to Columbus, Ohio to face No. 1 Ohio State for a weekend series.

Monday, the Buckeyes received 38 first-place votes to earn the top spot in the weekly USCHO.com poll.

Facing OSU (2-0-0) last year for the first time since 2002 when the two teams met at the Everblades Classic in Florida, the Minutemen (2-0-0) were still in the early stages of their season. Despite boasting a 3-1 record heading into the contest, UMass was humbled by the end of the weekend.

Goaltender Matt Murray surrendered six goals through both games and Niko Hildenbrand was the lone goal scorer for the Minutemen, notching the only tally in the first of the two games.

“I recall that it was a good series that we thought we played fairly well,” coach Greg Carvel said, “but we realized we were outmatched by an older, more experienced team. I recall coming off the ice after the second loss and saying, ‘that’s the big boys. That team is legit.’”

Last year’s Buckeye squad went on to win 26 games (.695 winning percentage), reaching the Frozen Four of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual National Champion Minnesota Duluth, 2-1. They also boasted two separate six-game unbeaten streaks throughout the season.

“All thirteen [freshmen] playing Providence or [Boston College] or [Boston University] for the first time, there was a little bit of an ‘awe’ factor,” Carvel said. “I don’t think that’ll be the case. I think we’re a confident team. I don’t think we’ll go in there over respecting.”

This will be the first home series of the year for the Buckeyes after they blew past Arizona State in their season-opening weekend, outscoring the Sun Devils 6-2.

For UMass, this is its first, and longest, road trip of the season.

“Everybody is looking at [traveling] as a negative, I look at it as a positive,” Carvel said. “I’m excited to get on the bus with these guys and have four days together and just hangout.”

Maxwell Zaleski/Collegian

The Minutemen are coming off a sweep of their own, defeating Rensselaer in back-to-back contests and accumulating nine goals compared to the Engineers’ two. Mitchell Chaffee registered three goals through both games while Bobby Trivigno contributed three assists on the weekend.

Carvel stressed to the team that it isn’t about who they are playing, but how they are playing. He believes that the Buckeyes will be a great test for the Minutemen, facing a high-caliber team the weekend after defeating a lower-level squad.

Sophomore Mario Ferraro remembers battling hard against OSU last season. He credited the Buckeyes’ maturity and ability to adjust as the deciding factor between the two teams. But he feels as though this time around, the Minutemen will be more prepared.

“We know that they’re skilled, we know that they’re experienced,” Ferraro said. “The biggest thing we take from them is that they work hard. They’re a good, strong fore-checking team and they have a good transition game.

“So on our end, we just got to make sure we play strong defensively because that’s what brings on the offense. As long as we’re good in our own zone and we can progress the puck up ice quick, that’ll create offense for us.”

The Minutemen’s first contest is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m., with the series wrapping up Saturday at 5 p.m.

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MWalker2019.

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