Massachusetts Daily Collegian

No. 2 UMass faces another big test against No. 18 Yale on Tuesday

Eighth contest of the first half of the season against ranked opponents

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No. 2 UMass faces another big test against No. 18 Yale on Tuesday

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

By Liam Flaherty, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts hockey team fought hard to earn a split with Quinnipiac over the weekend, but just two days after Saturday’s win, the Minutemen must refocus to take on Yale on Tuesday night.

No. 2 UMass held the nation’s top rank for only one week, but with three games in five days before the end of the first half of the season, the Minutemen (13-2-0, 7-0-0 Hockey East Association) need to face the adversity and put their best foot forward against a non-conference opponent that’s gradually been heating up.

Finding an easy win certainly won’t be the case against the No. 18 Bulldogs (7-2-2, 6-2-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference), as they’re on a five-game win streak that’s propelled them into the national rankings.

During the win streak, Yale notably defeated No. 19 Clarkson and No. 14 Union, 2-1 and 3-0 respectively. Tuesday’s midweek top-20 showdown will count as the eighth that UMass (5-2) has played this season.

“It’s the first time all year where we have had a game on a short reset,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said following practice at the Mullins Center on Monday afternoon. “So, we’re just trying keep everything tight and efficient, although there is a lot to do to try and get ready for a really good Yale team.”

The Bulldogs provide a similar style to what the Minutemen have prepared for in recent matchups, which should prove to be helpful considering their lackluster amount of prep time.

Maxwell Zaleski

“I think they’re very similar to us and I think they’re very similar to Quinnipiac,” Carvel said. “They play with a lot of speed up and down the ice. They have good skill level, good compete level and good goaltending. So, they have a lot of the elements that good teams have. Like Quinnipiac, it felt like the team that was hungrier found a way to win the game, so we have to make sure that we’re ready to go.”

Carvel also said that he believes Yale is a definitively better team than its rank suggests.

“I watched a couple of their games yesterday and they compete hard,” he added. “They have good goaltending, big defense and they’re tenacious. I’m surprised they’re not higher than they are.”

As UMass was slowed down by a pair of outstanding Quinnipiac goaltenders over the weekend, potting just three goals total, it will be in for another tough test if the Bulldogs’ top goalie, Sam Tucker, starts.

Tucker is 4-1 on the season and has allowed just seven goals. The senior’s save percentage is .949, while his goals against average sits at 1.40.

In its defensive zone, UMass will be on the lookout for Yale senior and top point-getter, Joe Snively, who leads the team in goals with eight through 11 games. He ranks among the top-50 scorers in the nation.

For UMass, Mitchell Chaffee leads the scoring with 19 points. At the end of his freshman season, he led the team with 13 goals. Under halfway through the regular season, he’s already potted ten.

Chaffee, as well as the other point leaders Cale Makar and John Leonard, did not score during the split with the Bobcats. Heading into the break, it would be a good sign to see any or all of them find the net.

Carvel also noted how he feels playing the last two of three games in five days in Amherst is a positive, which is typically a factor that the Minuteman coach doesn’t give credit to.

“I’m glad this one is at home,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to travel today and play this team on the road. I’m glad this gives us an extra day to get our energy back without having to travel and stay in a hotel.”

Puck drop at the Mullins Center to conclude the first half of the regular season is set for 7 p.m.

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

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