UMass hockey: Minutemen welcome Vermont for weekend pair at the Mullins Center

UMass players huddle up prior to their season opener against AIC earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

UMass players huddle up prior to their season opener against AIC earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By HANNAH BEVIS

Staff Writer 

Published: 11-09-2023 5:23 PM

Modified: 11-09-2023 5:23 PM


After the high of an overtime win against Northeastern and the rest from a long weekend has worn off, the UMass ice hockey team is back and ready to rumble against Hockey East foe Vermont this weekend. 

On paper, this should be a pair of very winnable games for the Minutemen. UMass is ranked No. 14 in the nation while Vermont is an unranked team, coming off a split with UConn last weekend to put its record at 2-3-1 record. 

That said, this isn’t a weekend that UMass (5-2-1) can coast through. The Catamounts still managed to pick up a shootout win against No. 5 Providence earlier this season, no easy feat for any team in the country.

“Hopefully they learned some lessons and me too, ‘cause we're gonna need to be a little more urgent, a little more desperate this weekend against a team that is playing really good hockey, that just went into Providence and found a way to win,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “They play right. They play hard. They have good attention to detail and they’re competing. That's more than half the battle – if you compete and you take care of the details, then good things will happen for you.”

That was one of the issues that Carvel had with his team last weekend. His message after last week’s game was that he was pleased that the team found a way to win even though they didn’t play their best. That doesn’t mean he was happy that his team didn’t play up to their usual standards. 

“(In) the third period after we scored, we probably could have made it two or three nothing and (put) the game away instead of giving up 2-on-0 breakaway,” Carvel said. “It’s just a game, I guess I'm supposed to accept that they're going to happen, but I wasn't happy. I felt better after losing a shootout to BU than I did about winning in overtime versus Northeastern.” 

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It’s becoming a trend that UMass tends to perform better in its second game of the weekend, which will make Friday’s opening game against Vermont that much more important. The good news is that the Minutemen are healthy, and the squad is putting out its best lineup every night. Michael Hrabal has also cemented himself as the team’s No. 1 goalie, allowing just 14 goals in six games for a .923 save percentage. 

Vermont is a team that tends to share the offensive load rather than rely on a few superstars. Three players — Simon Jellus (4G), Will Zapernick (1G, 3A) and Zach Dubinsky (4A) — are tied for the team lead in points, with three more players — Isak Walther (2G, 1A), Ryan Miotto (1G, 2A) and Massimo Lombardi (1G, 2A) — also multiple point scorers. The Catamounts have been relying on Gabe Carriere in net, and he has comparable statistics to Hrabal so far this year. The senior netminder has allowed 15 goals in six games, good for a .929 save percentage. 

UMass will rely on its usual suspects this weekend – freshman Jack Musa still leads the team in points with 11 (3G, 8A) closely followed by blueliner Scott Morrow with 10 points (2G, 8A). UMass has gotten its scoring from both its forwards and defensemen this year, showing that the defense hasn’t been afraid to jump in and make an offensive play when needed. 

The Minutemen will open their weekend set against Vermont at the Mullins Center on Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday’s game will start at 6 p.m. Both games are available to stream on ESPN-Plus, and Friday’s game will also be on NESN. 

Hannah Bevis can be reached at hbevis@gazettenet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Hannah_Bevis1.