UMass preparing for game-heavy week, beginning with UNH Wednesday

Starting Wednesday, the Minutemen will play three games in four days

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts hockey team will look to extend its win streak to four when it takes on New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Picking up three wins in a row, all at home, No. 9 UMass (5-3-1, 5-3-1 Hockey East) will be back on the road traveling to UNH (1-0-1, 1-0-1 HEA) in the first of three games slated for this week.

The Minutemen and Wildcats are both coming off strong performances in their last game, with UMass beating UConn 6-2, and UNH picking up a win over Maine with the same score.

“We go into this knowing we’re going to have to play really well to win at UNH.” UMass coach Greg Carvel said of the matchup. “I think they are a good, skilled fast team. Good combination of skill, grit and goaltending.”

With that being said, the Wildcats have only played two games this season, with their most recent one taking place on Dec. 12. The Minutemen, on the other hand, have played nine games already, and their last one took place just last week, so they have had a lot more games to establish themselves.

And with that increased game time, new players are becoming more comfortable with UMass’ style and making a big impact on the ice. Transfer Carson Gicewicz is coming off a three-point game against UConn and has come into his own offensively in the past few games.

“It always takes some time to acclimate to a new system… my linemates are two older guys, they’ve helped me out with that stuff,” Gicewicz said via zoom. “When you’re not thinking about what you’re supposed to do, it makes the game a lot simpler.”

One of those older players is senior Oliver Chau, who is currently battling an injury. Luckily for the Minutemen it is not as serious as some of the other injuries they have faced, but there has not been a decision on whether he will be back in the lineup against the Wildcats.

“It’s not a major injury but it’s a nagging injury,” Carvel said. “It’s more about how much pain he can play through.”

The silver lining to UMass’ roster this year is that it is deep enough to overcome having missing pieces in the lineup. Other than a tough stint early in the season with three defenders missing from the lineup, the Minutemen have shown they can go to their next man up and get similar production.

And the Minutemen as a whole have found a groove in their three-game win streak, outscoring opponents 14-3 in the victories.

Wednesday’s clash with UNH will be the first of three games in a four day stretch for UMass. After the New Hampshire trip, it will travel again on Friday to take on Northeastern in the first part of a home-and-home series that will finish up on Saturday night at the Mullins Center.

“The hard part is going to be travelling. UNH is a long drive for us, that’s two and a half hours there and back on Wednesday, and then to go back on the road Friday,” Carvel said. “These are all good teams, so it’ll be a challenge.”

Playing as many games as possible this season has been a priority for Carvel and the Minutemen, so the pro-style schedule this week is a welcome challenge for UMass.

“We’ve earned the right to play games, and we want to play games,” Carvel said. “We’ve made it clear to the commissioner, we will play whenever.”

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.