Mitchell Chaffee just keeps on chugging for UMass hockey

The sophomore has already surpassed his freshman year point totals

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Caroline O’Connor/Collegian

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

Mitchell Chaffee is having a career year.

After a breakout freshman season that included 13 goals, which tied for the team lead, and 24 points, the sophomore forward has already exceeded his mark from last season with nine games still to go. Chaffee leads the Massachusetts hockey team and is tied for the lead in the Hockey East Association with 15 goals, and his 29 points put him behind Jacob Pritchard and Cale Makar for third-most on the team.

On any other team, Chaffee would be the No. 1 threat, but on No. 2 UMass (20-5-0, 12-3-0 HEA) he’s one of a handful of Minutemen having impressive seasons.

The key to Chaffee’s best season yet? Not being afraid to try new things.

“Sometimes I try and go outside my comfort zone more and that’s kind of how you push yourself,” Chaffee said. “You can’t always be keeping it too simple, you got to push yourself out there, but I think it’s been going well.”

The Rockford, Michigan native combines a physical brand of hockey with a lethal shooting ability to make one of college hockey’s most fearsome forwards.

“I think he scores a lot of his goals because he has a tremendous shot. He can shoot the puck,” coach Greg Carvel said. “He’s got as good of a shot as anybody at this level.

“As long as he’s playing physical, it’s like Jake Gaudet–who doesn’t score nearly as much–but he has an effect on games when he plays physical.”

This past Friday at Boston University, Chaffee wasn’t as involved on the scoresheet as he could have been with just one assist, but Carvel still felt his first-line right-winger was as effective as ever.

“It’s funny, after the game I said to my assistants, I said ‘Chaffee seemed quiet tonight,’ probably because he didn’t score, but Jared DeMichiel said he was heavy, and I [rewatched] the game and he was heavy,” Carvel said. “He knocked a lot of guys down, he used his speed wide, he took pucks to the net, he did a lot of things that probably should have resulted in goals, but obviously you’re not going to score every game.”

“You’re not going to be putting up goals every game so I mean you got to make an impact out there somehow and using my body, my physicality is kind of a way I impacted the game without always scoring,” Chaffee added.

Over the past few weeks, Carvel has hounded his team on the importance of getting to the net-front and making it difficult for the opposing goalie to pick up pucks. At 6 feet and 208 pounds, Chaffee has the ideal stature to make life miserable on the netminder.

In UMass’ 4-2 win at Maine two weeks ago, Chaffee scored the game-winner just inside the slot. Mario Ferraro’s creativity and vision were big reasons for the goal, but without Chaffee crashing the dirty area, Ferraro would have had nobody to pass the puck off to.

Getting to those high-traffic areas comes with a price-tag, but Chaffee has been in the express lane throughout his time with the Minutemen.

“That’s kind of where most, I would say, most of my goals are scored this year, around the net,” Chaffee said. “The puck’s got to get there somehow so I mean it’s usually a good spot to go to try and get goals and you got to take away the goalie’s eyes now.”

With tough competition on deck for UMass, expect the Minutemen to lean on their leading scorer even more.

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