No.12 UMass gears up to play No. 7 Providence this weekend

The Minutemen go without Josh Lopina and Aaron Bohlinger

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Luis Ramirez / Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts hockey team has a tough matchup on Friday night against Providence College.

The Minutemen (4-2, 2-0 Hockey East) are coming off a four-game win streak coming into their matchup against the Friars (6-3, 3-1 HEA). Providence has more ice time than the University of Massachusetts this season, as they have played nine games, compared to the Minutemen’s six games. What this means for UMass is that the Friars will come in with more experience under their belt.

“They are consistently one of the top teams in our league and they are hard to play against,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “They make you play at a certain level. Providence is probably the best team in our league. They have played a lot of tough teams early on, so they’re pretty well battle tested.”

Josh Lopina and Aaron Bohlinger will not be playing for the Minutemen this weekend. UMass lost Bohlinger early in the first period against Merrimack when he was seen skating off the ice, holding his wrist. Lopina was scratched from the lineup before the most recent game. Both players will be out long term.

Most of the Minutemen’s games have not come without a battle. In their game against the Warriors, UMass was up throughout the game, but with a third period tie late into the period, the Minutemen had to battle their way back in overtime.

“As a coach, you’d like to just have a consistent effort through 60 minutes and hope that effort is to your standard and find ways to win,” Carvel said. “That’s not how you want to win. You don’t want to have to dig yourself out of a hole.”

Both teams have had defensemen that have been named to a Hockey East title this month. Friars’ defensemen, Guillaume Richard was named as defender of the month. The Minutemen’s Scott Morrow was named rookie of the week after his overtime goal against Merrimack.

The mindset that UMass is going into the series against Providence with is to fight hard to come out with a win. The Minutemen were able to get a break on Tuesday for the chance to vote. Many of them took that time to practice at their own pace.

“Providence is a really good program,” defenseman Colin Felix said.  “Those games are always tough every year, especially at their place. We’ll be ready to go. Obviously, we’re fresher this week with that off day, so I think that will help us a little bit. We’re going to come ready to go on Friday.”

Like Merrimack, Providence has a smaller sheet of ice than what can be found at the Mullins Center, making for more physicality throughout the game.

“They’re a tough team,” Felix said. “I think they are at the top of our league right now with points. We’re going to have to be ready, we’re going to have to work hard.”

The Minutemen will start their series against the Friars on Friday, November 3 in the Mullins Center at 7 p.m., followed by a Saturday game in Schneider Arena at the same time.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @kaygregoire.