Communication key in UMass hockey’s win over Notre Dame

Players looked confident and focused on the ice all game long

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(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

By Mollie Walker, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts hockey team was a cohesive unit Saturday night.

There was chemistry, there was trust and there was a unified motivation to win.

And with a 4-0 victory over Notre Dame (23-14-3) in the Northeast Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night, UMass (30-9-0) qualified for its first Frozen Four appearance in program history.

It was a convincing win over the Fighting Irish, which was powered by the team’s communication on the ice all night. Several key players dictated the tempo with their ability to convey pointers to their teammates to ensure that everyone was dialed in to the end goal.

“I think it’s been getting progressively better all year [with communication,] Cale Makar, who contributed a goal in the second, said. “We have a lot of guys this year that are capable of stepping up now and talking, whether it’s on the bench or in the room.

“I’ve said it from the start of the year, you don’t need a letter to be a leader.”

Coach Greg Carvel credited the increased communication between his players to the “narrow” game plan he presented to the team at the start of the week. He said he thought it unified the squad as he strived to ignite their most aggressive style of hockey.

From puck drop, the Minutemen were simply on the same page. They listened to one another and took direction from each other, there wasn’t a single stoppage in play that didn’t see UMass players gathering to discuss.

“The communication, the leadership from all our guys is huge,” Mario Ferraro said. “It’s something that I think we were a little bit immature with last week, and that’s something we learned from in Boston.

“Just coming into this weekend and reminding our teammates that you know, we’ve got to keep grinding,” he added. “We’ve got to keep pushing, we know that we’re a special group but we have to prove it.”

Ferraro knows that if the team continues to communicate and step up in leadership roles, then they can do a lot of damage together at this next level. When asked about the team’s current connection, the sophomore’s face just lit up.

“Oh yeah, we’re definitely really excited,” Ferraro smiled. “We’re bonding and that’s one of our identities and it’s something we try to improve on is our unity and our connection within the group.

“We’re all really pumped up and excited and humbled, you know this is one of the best groups that I’ve played with,” he added. “A lot of modest kids, nobody is too high over their head, we’re all really humbled and honored to be in the situation we’re in.”

The Minutemen will face Denver on April 11 to commence the NCAA Frozen Four.

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