UMass looking for its first win of the season against AIC

The Minutemen have dropped from No. 1 to No. 9 in the NCAA hockey polls

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Kira Johnson / Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Correspondent

The Massachusetts hockey team will be looking for its first win of the season against American International College in Springfield on Friday.

No. 9 UMass (0-2) is coming into the series against No. 20 AIC (0-1) without a win yet this season.

A lot of eyes have been placed on the Minutemen since being ranked No. 1 in the hockey polls. After a disappointing start and a bump down to No. 9 due to their series loss against Minnesota State last weekend, the Minutemen must come into the series against AIC putting any thought of the championship behind them.

“We want to play like we’re the underdogs, play hungry like we were last year and previous years as this program has risen to where we are now,” senior forward Bobby Trivigno said. “We don’t want to get complacent; We don’t want to play like champions, we want to play better than that, we want to play hungry.”

One of the issues seen during the series against Minnesota State was UMass’ backend. In just two games, the Minutemen allowed six goals.

“I think it starts with competing in practice every day,” junior defenseman Matthew Kessel said. “I think that’s the biggest thing and then being strict of all the details, just making sure everyone is doing the right thing and everyone holding their own accountable.”

UMass initially struggled to find its groove last season as well. A weekend sweep at the hands of Boston College and a win and a tie with Connecticut saw the Minutemen start their 2020-2021 campaign 1-2-1.

“We started last year 2-2-1,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “After our fifth game last year, I took a step back and said, ‘Oh my, we are not in a good place’ and so we made some adjustments and things turned in the right direction.”

A noticeable change for the Minutemen has been the new players that have entered the mix this season. Freshmen Scott Morrow, Taylor Makar, Ryan Ufko, Ryan Lautenbach and Lucas Mercuri got starting roles against Minnesota State in the opening series, though they have a lot of growing to do.

“Guys didn’t want to compete [against Minnesota State], so if they don’t want to compete in games, then I need to figure that out, but there is a lot of new pieces and it takes time,” Carvel said.

With the extra practice time the Minutemen have had in the past two weeks, they will be a different team than the one fans saw against Minnesota State. UMass will be going in with a very different mindset than they had two weeks ago.

“We still want another [national championship] so that’s a good mindset to have going into this weekend, is to not be satisfied with what we’ve done in the past, what players we have, where they are going next. It’s just all about being in the present,” Trivigno said.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kaygregoire.