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: Don’t count UMass hockey out

The Minutemen takes hard loss to a No. 1 team
Kira Johnson

The Massachusetts hockey team took a hard loss to No. 1 Boston College during its weekend series. While it may be easy to count the Minutemen (16-9-3, 9-7-2 Hockey East) out and believe they will not make a tournament run after being swept, fans really can’t look past UMass.

The Minutemen showed a lot of good in the two-game sweep. UMass was hurt from penalties throughout the game that at times hurt momentum. Penalties had many people, including head coach Greg Carvel, questioning if the refs made the right call. Despite the penalty calls, the Minutemen were outshot 46-24 by a very talented Eagles team on Friday.

On paper, the loss did not look great for UMass, but the Minutemen continued to show resilience.

In the game on Sunday, despite going down 2-0 in the first, the Minutemen continued to fight. Kenny Connors and Aydar Suniev gave UMass their first lead of the weekend and the game looked promising. Yes, they did lose the lead, but the Minutemen put up a fight, which has been the case for most of the season.

On Friday, even with a 5-1 loss, UMass did not look like a bad team at all. Connors, who had been quiet, looked like one of the best players on the ice. During the game it also looked clear that the Minutemen could hang with the No. 1 team in the country.

Despite freshman goaltender Michael Hrabal giving up a combined 11 goals, he still looked solid in net. Boston College showered him with shots and for the most part he made some big saves. Some of the goals were out of his control and did not reflect him as a goaltender.

On top of Hrabal and Suniev, freshmen have continually been huge for the Minutemen. Dans Locmelis and Jack Musa have been large parts of the offense. Cam O’Neill and Nick VanTassell have started to find their footing after having a slow start to their first year. With even young players finding a role on the team, it’s hard to count UMass out.

The defense has been tough to play against, especially with Hobey Baker candidates Scott Morrow and Ryan Ufko in the lineup every day. Players that have been typically quiet, like Linden Alger, have started to play their best hockey.

From top to bottom, the Minutemen will beat opponents with the physicality and hard play they bring to every game. Every coach that comes into Mullins Center comes out saying the same thing.

With No. 16 New Hampshire coming up, UMass will be up to the test. Currently sitting at No. 15 in Pairwise, every game is important for the Minutemen’s NCAA hopes. They sit at No. 14 in the polls, but all Carvel cares about is Pairwise, and that’s what decides their chances at battling in the tournament.

The Wildcats cooled down in 2024 after a hot start, but have started to pick it back up with a sweep against Maine. UNH is also battling for a tournament spot at No. 17 in Pairwise, which means UMass will have to be at its best.

With the Minutemen’s current Pairwise position there is no doubt they will make the NCAA Tournament, if they can win a majority of their next six games. If they make the tournament, they will be playing in front of a hometown crowd at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, giving them an advantage over other teams.

The important thing for the Minutemen is to maintain the mentality that they have kept all season: take it one game at a time.

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

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