Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Across the sheet: Q&A with Joshua Kummins of the New England Hockey Journal

UMass and Boston College set for home-and-home

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Across the sheet: Q&A with Joshua Kummins of the New England Hockey Journal

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts hockey team enters its final home-and-home series of the regular season this weekend with two against Boston College.

I talked with Joshua Kummins of the New England Hockey Journal  about the Eagles ahead of No. 3 UMass’ (21-6-0, 13-4-0 Hockey East Association) pivotal set:

Ryan Ames: It has been a down year for Boston College but it’s still sitting in third place in the Hockey East standings. How would you describe the Eagles’ season to this point?

Joshua Kummins: BC put itself in a great position in Hockey East by starting 6-1-2 but the games before and after that stretch have made it a pretty disappointing season in terms of the overall record. The Eagles’ play has been inconsistent over the last few years, though it seems especially so this year. BC just snapped an unbelievable 25-game winless streak in non-conference play in the first round of the Beanpot. That streak included a loss to Bentley after Thanksgiving. Obviously, there is some level of luck involved in a streak extending that long, but it’s a sign that times have definitely changed. BC went 1-0-1 against BU earlier this season and two of its three Hockey East wins in this calendar year have come against Providence. It’s never a question of talent with BC, but putting everything together for a complete game has been a challenge this year.

RA: David Cotton has been BC’s best player all year as the junior leads the league in goal-scoring. What is it about his game that brings him so much success?

JK: David Cotton is having an amazing season that is largely going unnoticed because of how difficult the season has been for the team as a whole. He has been an important player for BC since his career started, but the top-line role he’s playing now as an upperclassman really allows his total package to show. He is a big guy but a strong skater and has great skill, so he is really a complete player. That makes him tough to stop no matter what he’s trying to do with the puck. His line with Logan Hutsko, who is out with a concussion now, and Julius Mattila really helped spark BC’s offense especially during the strong Hockey East stretch earlier in the year. Simply put, BC goes as David Cotton goes.

RA: Ben Finkelstein was a highly-touted transfer that came to Chestnut Hill after spending two years at St. Lawrence. How has he transitioned to being an Eagle, in your opinion?

JK: BC has allowed at least five goals in five different games this year but its defense didn’t contribute a single goal until early last month. That certainly didn’t help the struggles, but Finkelstein has been a great boost to the blue line. His offensive-minded game fits right in and he’s seen time on the power play, but none of that takes away from his all-around play. He’s really helped to elevate the team’s game overall, and most of the scores since he’s been in the lineup go to show that.

RA: As a team, BC has struggled putting the puck in the net. Scoring just 62 goals in 27 games (UMass has scored 102 in the same amount of time), what would you say has caused this issue for the Eagles?

JK: Aside from Michael Kim and Casey Fitzgerald, BC defensemen have struggled to break the puck out consistently throughout the season. Finkelstein has also been a key addition for improving that department. Obviously, that’s not an ideal trait for a team struggling to score goals. There isn’t a major threat outside of Cotton’s line either, though freshman Oliver Wahlstrom has come into his own since World Juniors and I thought senior JD Dudek had a great game in the Beanpot.

RA: UMass and Boston College meet for a weekend home-and-home that could have major ramifications on the Hockey East standings. How do you predict this series will play out?

JK: BC’s biggest equalizer this season, especially lately, has been Joseph Woll. The Eagles need him to continue his strong play in net in order to find success in this series against a such a talented, deep UMass offense. BC has a chance if he can, but that in itself, obviously, hasn’t been enough all the time. With that said, I think UMass takes this series.

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

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