UMass preparing for game heavy schedule for the rest of the season

The Minutemen will have five games in a span of 10 days

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Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

Coming off its series against Michigan, the Massachusetts hockey team had a two-week break to figure out what went wrong in its series that led to it being swept. This two-week break was the last long break that No. 14 UMass (10-6-2, 7-2-2 Hockey East) will be getting for the rest of the regular season.

The Minutemen will be playing at least two games each week until their last series on March 5 and 6 against Boston College.

Throughout the first half of the season UMass had multiple long breaks to allow for players to rest between tough series. After the tiring first series against Minnesota State where UMass got swept, the Minutemen had two weeks off and came back to sweep American International College. The Minutemen had that same amount of time after they were swept by Michigan.

When the Minutemen have taken breaks that are two weeks or longer, they have typically come back to win their next series.

Now UMass will play five games against four different teams in a span of 10 days. A positive that will come out of the second half of the season is that most of the games will be played at home in the Mullins Center. The Minutemen have 15 games left in their regular season and nine will be at home.

Playing at home gives UMass an advantage because it will have the support of UMass fans while also playing on familiar ice. In the upcoming Northeastern series, there will not be a full student section due to students being on winter break, but the Minutemen will likely see a full student section in their game against Boston University.

“Practices get old, there’s no students here, it gets old, it gets stale,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “[It’ll] be good to get back into the semester with students on campus. It’s tough to keep the kids’ energies up and keep them motivated and focused.”

During their most recent two-week break, Carvel has been focusing on making sure player’s energies are fully up considering they have five games in quick succession. UMass hasn’t played that many games in that short of a time frame all season.

During the Michigan series, it was prevalent that the Minutemen had shown a weaker side of their game which has helped Carvel see what needs to be fixed or changed. Practices for the Minutemen have been very straight forward and tailored specifically to fix those mistakes.

“When you play the really high-end teams, they really expose the weaker parts of your game. When you do lose, the silver lining is that you usually find a way to make your team better. That’s been the focus since the Michigan series,” Carvel said.

Northeastern has not had a two-week break and has been playing games each week since Jan. 7. Unlike UMass, the Huskies (15-5-1, 7-3-1 HEA) played a game on Tuesday Jan. 18, so the Minutemen will have a better rested team.

For the first time in a long time, UMass will have a mostly healthy lineup back on the ice for a series. The Minutemen battled injuries for most of the first half of the season, but in the last three games they had players that had been put in isolation due to COVID-19. The expectation for the weekend series against Northeastern, though, is that UMass will not be missing more than one or two players.

The Minutemen will play their first game in two weeks against Northeastern Friday, Jan. 21 in the Mullins Center. Puck drop will be at 7:00 p.m., followed by a Saturday game at Northeastern.

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