Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey uses bonding to fight through adversity

Bonding has helped the Minutemen stay together
Dylan Nguyen/Daily Collegian (2022)

The Massachusetts hockey team has had one of its toughest seasons in years after dipping below .500 in its game against New Hampshire.

Without seeing production on the ice, it could be easy for the Minutemen (9-10-3, 3-8-1 Hockey East) to disconnect a little bit off the ice. That hasn’t been the case, though. UMass has made sure to continue to stay together when they are not at practice or playing a game.

The Minutemen are heading into a tough matchup against No. 13 UConn which will pose a challenge for them. With the loss against UNH, UMass has gone unranked for the first time this season, and the first time since 2018.

“I think it’s important we don’t focus on the outcome or the next game,” Lebster said. “Just get back to our process and make sure we are doing everything that we can in practice. Doing everything right on and off the ice.”

Hard practices in preparation for the matchup will help the team with skill and conditioning, but the team also knows bonding will help them this week.

The team all lives together in different groups separated by classes, and that forms tight bonds between roommates. But this week, the Minutemen as a whole have made sure to spend plenty of time with one another as a large group when they are not in Mullins Center. That means using rest time to go out to eat or anything that the whole team can participate in.

“We went to the movies together last night,” Lebster said. “Trying to get that connection back up and bring us all together to get ready for the next game.”

They all watched “Plane,” and although Lebster may have rated the movie only as “alright,” being able to spend time with his teammates made the experience better.

UMass’ movie night is only one of many experiences that have used to bond as one. Cookouts have been an event the Minutemen have used to get everyone into one space. Even when not playing hockey, they don’t take a break from the sport; watching a Bruins hockey game has been a way for them to bond under one roof.

With almost two months off of school and a lot of free time on their hands, the players have wanted to take advantage of being the only ones on campus.

“Just to get everyone together, especially with this break we’re having,” Matt Koopman said. “No school, it’s a pretty long break, I didn’t realize how long it goes for. Something we are trying to stress now with no school going on.”

With the break, UMass Athletics events have not seen many fans in the stands. The Minutemen used this as a chance to go out and support the men’s basketball team. This not only allowed them to show support for other sports, but also bond as a team.

Small things like going out to get food after practices have also made it easier for them to connect. Doing the little things together has helped the Minutemen not allow the season to break them a part.

“We have meetings and practice and what not but anytime we have an opportunity to go outside the rink and get everyone together, it goes a long way,” Koopman said.

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

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