Leadership is key for creating cohesion on UMass hockey

The Minutemen added ten new players in the off-season

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Luis Ramirez / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

Inexperience showed throughout the Massachusetts hockey team’s opening weekend against Minnesota State. With ten new players on the team, the Minutemen (0-2) are still learning how to play together.

Senior forward Bobby Trivigno was named captain at the beginning of the season, with defensemen Matthew Kessel and Colin Felix taking on assistant captain roles. Throughout the two-week break, they have stepped up and taken on the responsibility of creating greater cohesion amongst the team.

“To me, the progress I see is the intensity of our leaders,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said.

“They compete, but the level of our newer players who are learning to compete at this level and seeing our powerplay look like they’re playing with more purpose. Our d-zone coverage, which was atrocious against Minnesota State, appears to be better but it’s just us against ourselves. We need to do it against a good team,” Carvel continued.

After a summer of celebration, the series against the Mavericks showed that there is still room for growth. The Minutemen will have to work harder to repeat their success from last season, and that will start in their upcoming series against American International (0-1).

“[The past two weeks] have been 100 percent work ethic,” senior goaltender Matt Murray said. “Making sure that we are a close-knit team on and off the ice.”

After goaltender Filip Lindberg elected to head to the pros following the end of the 2020-2021 season, Murray chose to stay at UMass for his fifth year. As one of the oldest members of the team, he sees himself as a leader especially amongst the two younger goalies, freshman Luke Pavicich and sophomore Henry Graham. Having a team that supports him pushes Murray to motivate the team to perform at the highest level.

Trivigno holds a lot of power in the locker room, and with that comes the responsibility to understand when to push his teammates and when to keep it light.

“We’ve been having fun, making fun of [being a captain], but it’s just been hard work,” Trivigno said. “It’s a lot about being vocal. You just got to talk to guys, hold guys accountable when things aren’t going right, or guys aren’t doing the right thing.”

Even with new acquisitions, it’s been up to Kessel to help lead and teach the new members UMass’ style of play and the expectations set by Carvel and the captains. Senior defenseman Slava Demin transferred to UMass from Denver with an impressive record, and freshman defenseman Scott Morrow earned a spot in the second line against Minnesota State. Kessel is a staple of the Minutemen defense, being a key member of the power-play unit.

“We got a good number of players to turn around [in our program],” Kessel said. “Just leading by example, showing them how to compete every day on the ice and just helping pull them along with you.”

The goal for the Minutemen will be to maintain a high level of play for all 60 minutes of the game in the upcoming weekend series with AIC. Their second game of the season against Minnesota State saw them dominate possession. UMass scored three goals in the first two periods, but a breakdown in the third period allowed the Mavericks to score six unanswered goals.

UMass will travel and take on AIC for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop on Friday.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.