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

Gregoire: Lineup shake-up proves beneficial in UMass hockey win

The Minutemen come out hot against Northeastern
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2024)

BOSTON – The Massachusetts hockey team shook up the lines on Saturday in its win over Northeastern and it  looked like a better team because of it.

Due to Taylor Makar and Lucas Vanroboys being sidelined due to injuries, head coach Greg Carvel was forced to change up the lines. This meant Michael Cameron was moved down to the third line to make room for Aydar Suniev while Cameron was put with Dan Locmelis and Nick VanTassell. Liam Gorman and Bo Cosman were slotted back into the fourth line with Cam O’Neill. Kenny Connors and Cole O’Hara were then put with leading scorer Jack Musa on the second line.

Coming out of the first period, it was evident that the Minutemen (13-6-3, 6-4-2 Hockey East) were the better team, the new lines seeming to gel quickly with one another. While Carvel said it’s not great to have to change lines because of players out due to injury, he said that the lines looked good on the ice on Saturday.

VanTassell and Locmelis benefited from having a speedy Cameron skating with them. When the freshmen could not get to the puck in time, Cameron most likely could beat out Northeastern (7-12-2, 3-6-1 HEA) players. The line gelled enough to give VanTassell his first goal of the season in his 14th game played. The third line had practiced throughout the week which helped them coming into their game against the Huskies.

“All week, we started Monday, and I think from the start we were really good,” VanTassell said about the third line during practice. “I think we got a mix of everything with Michael Cameron’s speed and Dans Locmelis’ smarts, he’s got a really good hockey IQ. Good things happen when you work hard.”

Lautenbach and Mercuri have stayed together as a duo since their freshman year and have meshed well with one another now as juniors. The one thing that has changed has been who has been the other wing on the team. For most of last season, it was Taylor Makar, but that changed at the beginning of this season as Cameron slotted in. The duo played with Suniev for the first time this season and looked like a complete line with the addition of the freshman.

Lautenbach played one of his better games of the season against the Huskies, netting a goal and adding five shots on net. Although he took a penalty and his goal came on special teams, he played well with Mercuri and Suniev. Suniev and Mercuri are both physical players, along with Lautenbach so it was a strong match.

While Musa’s game wasn’t as strong with O’Hara and Connors, he ignited offense for them. O’Hara was one of the better players on the ice on Saturday. He had four shots and an assist while Connors had three shots. O’Hara was making plays throughout the game, looking like he benefited from Musa on the second line.

“I thought splitting the freshman up helped the lines that they were on,” Carvel said. “Suniev helped the Mercuri line get a little more offensive minded and same with Musa, I think he brought Connors and O’Hara’s game up then Locmelis’ line scores the game winner so it ended up working really well for us.”

Cosman, Gorman and O’Neill still need time to develop as a line but they had a few good shifts on Saturday. With Gorman as a graduate student, he helps the two freshmen on the line with him grow. He’s a solid player on the forecheck and backcheck and that gives O’Neill and Cosman room to make plays.

While Suniev did not show up on the scoresheet, he had four solid shots. Most UMass players struggled to get past Northeastern goaltender Cameron Whitehead so it’s not entirely Suniev’s fault.

On top of the lines changing, the defense also had changes to their pairings with Samuli Niinisaari coming back from injury. The graduate student was put back on his spot with Scott Morrow and they looked solid. While more of a defensive defenseman, Niinisaari adds more offense to his game when he is with Morrow. On the other hand, Niinisaari adds defense to Morrow’s game, helping him deflect chances more often.

The Minutemen will have a two week break before taking on Merrimack away on Friday, Feb. 2 with puck drop set for 7:00 p.m.

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *