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

Maynard: UMass hockey 2023-24 schedule breakdown

The Minutemen’s best matchups heading into the season
Kayla Wong
Daily Collegian (2022)

The Massachusetts hockey team begins its 2023-24 campaign on Oct. 7 when it hosts AIC. With a long season ahead, there are plenty of matchups for the Minutemen that will be must-watch as this new look team progresses through the season.

No. 5 Michigan

Similar to facing off against first ranked Denver at the start of the 2022-23 season, UMass will immediately be thrown against a difficult opponent in games two and three of the new campaign on Oct. 13 and 14.

Michigan will make the trip to the Mullins Center fresh off losing to the eventual national champion Quinnipiac Bobcats in the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four. The Wolverines look to have another strong team, even with the loss of 2023 Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Fantilli, who is making the jump to the NHL after being drafted third overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Young forwards Frank Nazar and Rutger McGroarty will be leaned on and given larger roles in the upcoming season to fill the void. Nazar was drafted thirteenth overall in the 2022 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks and will most likely take over at center on the top line. McGroarty was drafted just one pick later by the Winnipeg Jets in the same draft.

In net, the Wolverines have some question marks with Noah West being the only goaltender returning to the squad, only having seven games under his belt. Two new faces will be in the mix, with Jacob Barczewski being brought in from Canisius as well as Andrew Albano coming from Norwich.

The Minutemen will need to key in on Michigan’s two sophomores defensively and take advantage of the inexperience between the pipes to have a chance to get past the fifth ranked team in the country.

 No. 1 Boston University

Just 13 days after its toughest matchup(s) of the season, UMass will be tasked with taking on the Terriers from Boston University after their season ended with a loss in the Frozen Four to Minnesota in 2023. The first of the two-game series will be at Agganis Arena and the second at the Mullins Center.

The main three names surrounding the Terriers are freshman forward Macklin Celebrini and sophomore brothers Lane and Quinn Hutson. Celebrini is the top ranked prospect in the upcoming 2024 draft and was the first player to ever be named USHL Player, Forward and Rookie of the Year in the same season. The Hutson brothers showed in their first season together that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Lane finished with 48 points in 39 games and was in the running for the Hobey Baker Award, while Quinn had 28 points of his own.

The men tending the net for Boston University will be a new look bunch in 2023-24. One member of the group is a familiar face to the Minutemen, Henry Graham who was with UMass for three seasons. Nick Howard and Mathieu Caron were also brought in to form a versatile bunch that will need to prove themselves in 2023-24.

No. 15 Harvard

The Minutemen will make the trip to Bright-Landry Hockey Center for their only game against the Crimson on Nov. 24. 15th ranked Harvard is coming off a loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament and will feature a largely new team with all three of its top goal scorers moving on from the program.

Sophomore forward Joe Miler will be thrown into a larger role, as the highest point getter in the previous season. Defenseman Ian Moore will suit up for his third year patrolling the blue line for the Crimson, serving as a veteran in the locker room.

Harvard has senior Derek Mullahy returning in goal, after appearing in seven games and posting a 1.70 GAA in 2022-23. By the time UMass sees the Crimson, many of their young players will have more experience under their belts.

No. 14 Merrimack

The Merrimack Warriors are featured three times on the schedule for the Minutemen, playing at the Mullins Center on Jan. 12 and facing off at Lawler Rink in North Andover on Jan. 13 and Feb. 2.

Contrary to many other teams on the UMass schedule, Merrimack comes in with veteran leadership throughout its top goal scorers. Matt Copponi, Alex Jefferies and Ben Brar each scored 14 goals in 2022-23 and will all be playing in their third, fourth and fifth seasons respectively with the Warriors.

The goaltenders will also come with experience, with the duo of Hugo Ollas and Zachary Borgiel coming into their third and fourth years with the club.

No. 19 Northeastern

On Nov. 3 and Jan. 20, the Minutemen will face off against the Northeastern Huskies, with the first matchup in Amherst and the second taking place at Matthews Arena in Boston.

The Huskies have most of their talent from their 2022-23 roster returning, with Justin Hryckowian, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and Matt Choupani coming back to the team after each scoring 10 or more goals. Hunter McDonald will head the defensive unit coming off a season with 13 points and 94 blocks.

Honorable Mentions

On Dec. 29 and 30, UMass will travel to Lake Placid, New York to play in the Adirondack Winter Invitational along with No.11 Cornell, Clarkson and Arizona State. The Minutemen will take on Cornell in the first round and the winner will advance and play the winner of Clarkson and Arizona State.

UMass will hit the road to take on the Minnesota State Mavericks on Oct. 20 and 21. The Minutemen will also face their Hockey East foe the Boston College Eagles in a split series on Feb. 16 and 18.

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mikecmaynard.

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