Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey: Believe the hype

This team is something to celebrate

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UMass hockey: Believe the hype

(Will Katcher/ Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/ Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/ Daily Collegian)

(Will Katcher/ Daily Collegian)

By Brendan Lally, Collegian Columnist

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Last week, the University of Massachusetts hockey team made history as it was the country’s top-ranked team for the first time in program history. With a stacked roster full of players from all over the United States and the world, this squad has all the tools it needs to make a historic run. The campus is buzzing around this Minutemen’s success, and the Mullins Center is as packed as it’s ever been. But even with everything going in the right direction, there are still some people who aren’t sold on this team.

After a 7-4 slaughtering of UConn, the hockey world was booming with two separate highlights from the game. The first being Marc Del Gaizo’s nasty toe drag to kick goal, which went viral on the internet. If you haven’t seen this goal, shame on you – it’s an absolute beauty. Big hockey twitter accounts like Spittin’Chiclets, the popular Barstool Sports hockey podcast, spread this thing like wildfire.

The same also happened with Bobby Trivigno’s slick penalty shot goal. Penalty shots don’t occur regularly, and they’re a huge opportunity to control momentum of the game. Luckily, Trivigno’s goal did just that as the freshman dangled the life out of poor UConn goalie, Adam Huska, scoring his second goal of the game.

But aside from the highlight reel heroics, the UMass hockey team is very well-rounded. With two stud goalies competing with each other for the rights between the pipes, this team has a sturdy back end. On defense, UMass is led by 2017 fourthoverall draft pick Cale Makar, who’ll be an NHL star for the Colorado Avalanche in the coming years. Offensively, everyone chips in. Averaging about four goals a game, the forwards have no issue burying pucks.

However, after a tough weekend matchup against Quinnipiac, which resulted in one win and one loss, UMass was demoted to a No. 2 national ranking. The Minutemen have the tools to go deep into the playoffs, but do they have the experience to go all the way? Everyone knows that in order to achieve playoff success, in any sport, you need a lot more than just talent. This team already plays with a chip on its shoulder, and it has plenty to prove. After a promising playoff appearance last season, it goes without saying that the Minutemen know what it takes in the early rounds. But are they Frozen Four caliber?

Time will tell. It’s only December, and teams evolve throughout a season in different ways. One thing that’s certain though is that the Hockey East Association is a cutthroat league. Historic programs like Boston College and Boston University are probably pretty pissed off to see such success from an up-and-coming program like UMass. Lord knows those teams have circled UMass on their calendars, although they probably expect a whooping at the Mullins.

It’s pretty cool that UMass has a top-notch program getting it done. It’s about time the flagship is among the nation’s best. For the fans, this is going to be a wild ride. Already, the Mullins Center has been electric. Fans have been going off the walls for this squad and they want the wins to keep rolling in. If this team keeps trending in the right direction, the fans might need to load the Peter Pan buses and head to Buffalo for the Frozen Four.

That’s a long way away, but it’s completely possible. No matter how you cut it, the fanbase is jacked up to see such success. It’s great for the school and the UMass brand itself. The coming months should be unreal, as we’ve been blessed with some great hockey. For anyone who has their doubts, believe the hype.

Brendan Lally is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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