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 looks to continue winning streak against Boston University

Minutemen open Hockey East play against the Terriers
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team is taking on Boston University this weekend in its first Hockey East series of the season. The No. 19 Minutemen (4-1) will have their hands full with the influx of talent that the No. 9 Terriers (2-2) have up and down their roster.

Boston University came into the year ranked as the No.1 team in the nation before any games were played, and although it has scuffled out of the gate, the Terriers are fully capable of getting things back on track quickly with how much talent they have.

The Terriers are coming off a victory against Notre Dame where they were able to score at will, taking home an 8-2 win. UMass is similarly looking to build off its series sweep over Minnesota State.

Macklin Celebrini has been on fire to start the season for the Terriers, with five goals and an assist through the team’s first four games. The future first-round pick has quickly taken the reigns of the first-line center spot and will be a huge point of focus for UMass on defense.

“I want to see more attention to detail in our play without the puck, recognizing when we need to be really urgent to defend and the details in defending,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “[We need to] understand where goals are scored and make sure we defend those really well.”

The penalties against the Minutemen are a huge focal point for the team moving forward. The team has 32 total penalties through the first five games of the season while surrendering five goals on the penalty kill.

“I guess I just need to do a better job of holding guys accountable,” Carvel said. “I also think referees call a lot of penalties at the beginning of the year … We do take a lot of stick penalties and we’ve discussed it a lot. It needs to be curtailed because it’s really affecting us.”

Going into its first Hockey East games of the season, UMass will look to take a step in the right direction, after going 7-14-3 in conference play in the year prior.

“Our goal is to be in the NCAA Tournament, so playing Minnesota State is just as important as playing [Boston University],” Carvel said. “Every game is important; every game is a grind to win … It’s just another game against another good team.”

After a strong start to the season, the Minutemen have moved into the USCHO rankings at No. 19, cracking the top 20 for the first time since Jan. 9 of this year.

“[Being ranked] doesn’t motivate me at all,” Carvel said. “I don’t like it. I wish we were off [the rankings]. It’s a distraction to me … We need desperation. We need to prove a lot of stuff. Once you get in the rankings, I don’t want anyone to think we’ve arrived.”

Both teams come into the weekend similar in some aspects, while also showing some differences. Each team scores 4.0 goals per game, along with winning more faceoffs than they lose.

Some differences come on special teams, with UMass converting on 29.2 percent of power plays and Boston University coming in at 11.1 percent. The clubs also share a wide margin on the penalty kill with the Minutemen and Terriers sitting at 83.9 and 68.7 percent success rate, respectively.

“It’s just another weekend for us, not going to focus too much about it, [it’s] just another game,” Lucas Mercuri said. “Obviously this is Hockey East, so we want to get some points and play really well, like we’ve been playing.”

Friday’s game will be in Boston at Agganis Arena, and Saturday’s will be played in Amherst at the Mullins Center. Both puck drops are set for 7 p.m.

“You’ve got to play well, wherever you are,” Carvel said. “Winning two [games] on the road [this year] has got to help us with our confidence. I’d like to see that continue on the road here for the first game … As a player, if you’re on campus Friday, you’re going to class, so if you’re on the road you can kind of dial it in.”

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

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