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 slated for historic matchup with Alaska Anchorage

Minutemen look to bounce back after loss to Vermont
Kalina Kornacki

Coming off a road loss to Vermont, the Massachusetts hockey team is back in Amherst this weekend for a back-to-back matchup against an unfamiliar opponent in Alaska Anchorage. This is the first meeting between the two programs in each of their histories, as the Seawolves (6-11-1) will make the nearly 4,500-mile journey to take the ice at the Mullins Center for the first time.

Anchorage is coming off of back-to-back losses against in-state rivals Alaska Fairbanks, which it has now lost to four times this season. Although the Seawolves have a less than optimal record thus far, they have picked up wins against strong opponents such as Wisconsin and Hockey East opponent UMass Lowell this season.

“[Anchorage] can beat good teams on the road, which isn’t easy to do,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “This is one of those weekends where the message will be, ‘it’s about what we do, not about what the opponent does.’”

The Seawolves two leading scorers are Ben Almquist and Maximilion Helgeson, who have 14 and 13 points respectively, but the teams overall scoring comes from up and down the lineup. 19 players have recorded a point for Anchorage, and it will need its depth to be on the forefront against the Minutemen (9-4-1, 4-3-1 HEA) who have proven to be staunch defensively.

Anchorage is also the most penalized team in the country, logging 100 penalties through 18 games, seven more than second place Holy Cross.

“They’re probably the most penalized because they play most of their games on the road,” Carvel said. “They do play an aggressive, physical style; the combination of those two things is probably the reason they’re the most penalized.”

An increase in power play opportunities for the Minutemen would give them an opportunity to bring their season percentage up, as it currently sits at a relatively average 21.43 percent, good for 20th in the country. With the offensive weapons UMass has however, Carvel would like to see his team convert on the man advantage with more frequency.

“Special teams always make a difference in the game, we couldn’t score on the powerplay in Vermont, and they scored, and they won the game, that’s the difference,” Carvel said.

Carvel would like to see his team play with more desperation after a disappointing loss to the Catamounts this past weekend.

“Our job is to play desperate after losing to Vermont, in a game that we played fairly well but we lost,” Carvel said. “We need to go into break with two solid wins, we’re not just going to show up, there’ll be good battles for sure.”

The Minutemen also want to learn from the Vermont game, improving mentally throughout games from now on.

“We’ve got to grow tougher mentally,” Carvel said. “I think we lost the game in Vermont for mental reasons, it wasn’t for physical reasons. Being more committed to the details of the game, I thought, was the difference to the game against UVM. The team is trending in a good way, but there’s lessons to be learned along the way and we learned a lesson at Vermont I hope.”

Mental strength and discipline will be a big factor against the Seawolves, who don’t shy away from adversity, seeing as they play a lot of games on the road after long travel days. UMass needs its vocal leaders to emphasize playing within themselves and playing their own game as opposed to getting into any antics the Seawolves could pull out.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 at the Mullins Center.

“I think they play a lot of their games on the road so coming in here they’re not going to feel frightened or anything, they’re going to give us their best game,” Captain Ryan Ufko said.

Matt Skillings can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @matt_skillings.

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