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

Ciano: Four takeaways from UMass’ exhibition game against Dartmouth

Players up and down the lineup prove themselves in a 5-1 regulation win on Sunday
Kira Johnson
Daily Collegian (2023)

HANOVER, N.H — The Massachusetts hockey team took on Dartmouth College on Sunday afternoon in an exhibition contest. UMass (1-0) dominated on the scoreboard, leading 5-1 in regulation, as well as in physicality against the Big Green (0-0).

Across the lineup, the Minutemen had both shaky aspects of the game as well as strong, reliable players. Sunday’s matchup brought these four takeaways to light.

 Jack Musa is leading the freshmen pack

In the absence of Ryan Lautenbach from Sunday’s matchup, Musa stepped up to the junior line and proved himself as a physical player. The freshman kept a good eye on the puck, snatching away opportunities from Dartmouth. Musa also took on the spirit of the junior line and gave it his all with his body. The aggression of the freshman mixed well with the juniors, and he proved to be a player that can be placed up and down the forward lineup.

“[Musa’s] a good, young player,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “We needed to shuffle things [in Sunday’s lineup]… [Musa’s] a good player, we can put him anywhere in the lineup.”

However, Musa has been leading the freshmen early in the season, especially with Aydar Suniev and Dans Locmelis missing from the lines. Third-line right wing Cam O’Neill struggled with his vision on the ice, often turning over the puck with backwards passes.

A slow start on the ice made it difficult for the Minutemen to find stability in the first period. Likewise, freshmen mistakes persisted as Bo Cosman found himself in the penalty box twice, leaving it to the returners to kill four minutes of regulation.

 The sophomore line capitalizes on its stability

Sophomores Michael Cameron, Kenny Connors, and Cole O’Hara ended the 2022-23 season on a high note, especially Cameron who started to breakthrough with his own gameplay. On Sunday, the line continued to take a firm grasp over the puck.

Gaining control over the puck from down the ice in the first period, Cameron had a few seconds to analyze the net and stalk up on Dartmouth’s starting goaltender Cooper Black before slinging the puck in. The sophomore had no trouble doubling UMass’ lead, 2-0. To close out the game, Cameron persisted with his speed, swerving towards his right and sneaking up to the net. The puck flew above the goaltender and sunk in.

“Last year as a freshman, I didn’t realize [Cameron could] finish like he does,” Carvel said. “He has two goals in two games [so far] this year.”

Connors kept up the momentum of sophomore strength early in the second period. On a power play for the Minutemen, Lucas Mercuri made a quick pass to Connors who was standing nearby the net. In a split second, the forward made a powerful shot and snuck the puck right by second-string goaltender Mikey Roberts’ left shoulder.

While Cole O’Hara did not show up on the scoreboard, the sophomore line continues to capitalize on its stability, finding control over the puck and keeping the game in control. With big bodies on the ice and powerful hits coming left and right, the sophomores are the eye of the hurricane.

 The juniors are big bodies on the ice, and are finally using that to their advantage

From offense to defense, the juniors all took a leap of faith into leadership roles on the ice. Mercuri, Taylor Makar, Scott Morrow, and Ryan Ufko showed up on the ice ready to play and ready to be aggressive. Using speed and build, the four veterans attacked and dominated the physical game.

“I think we led in the physicality,” Carvel said. “We [have] a big team this year.”

Coming off of a night of turnovers, Morrow used the exhibition game to get back on the right foot. The junior defenseman slotted in two goals on Sunday: The first being a scoop into the net after finding passing rhythm with Samuli Niinisaari under a minute into the first period, and the second a clean goal from Ufko in the second period.

“I see improvements in every part of [Morrow’s] game,” Carvel said. “He’s a different player than he was the first two years. [I] see him getting more physical, [I] see him playing harder defensively.”

 For a true goaltending contest, Michael Hrabal needs to be challenged

Hrabal found his first start on Sunday afternoon and stayed in net for all three periods as typically starting goaltender Cole Brady took a backseat. However, the freshman was not challenged and looked timid. The hesitation was evident with Hrabal unsure of if he caught the puck at times during regulation.

The freshman was able to showcase his true skill, though, in the shootout where he honed in his focus. Only allowing in one puck, Hrabal kept his eyes on the pucks and swiftly moved his body in perfect unison for his two saves.

“[Hrabal] sees the puck really well, controls the puck well [and] plays the puck well,” Carvel said.

Hrabal found his first save at the 8:41 mark of the first period, simply deflecting soft shots with either his stick or his legs. Though only allowing one puck to shoot past him, the second-string goaltender fell back on the performances of his defense and aggression of the juniors overall.

The Minutemen return back to Mullins Center on Friday, Oct. 13. Puck drop against the Michigan Wolverines is set for 7 p.m.

Sydney Ciano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SydneyCiano.

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