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UMass hockey opens Friday  

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>John Micheletto fields questions after being named the new University of Massachusetts ice hockey head coach Monday during a press conference at the Mullins Center.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    John Micheletto fields questions after being named the new University of Massachusetts ice hockey head coach Monday during a press conference at the Mullins Center. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>John Micheletto speaks Monday after being named new University of Massachusetts ice hockey head coach at the Mullins Center.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    John Micheletto speaks Monday after being named new University of Massachusetts ice hockey head coach at the Mullins Center. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>John Micheletto fields questions after being named the new University of Massachusetts ice hockey head coach Monday during a press conference at the Mullins Center.
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>John Micheletto speaks Monday after being named new University of Massachusetts ice hockey head coach at the Mullins Center.

AMHERST — After getting to know his team off the ice and seeing them practice for just over a month now, new University of Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto has a basic idea of what kind of team he has.

But there are things he won’t know until he sees his players in a game and he’s curious.

“We haven’t had a lot of adversity thrown our way. We’ve talked about it. How are we going to handle it?” said the former Vermont assistant who’ll be making his head coaching debut Friday at 7 p.m. when his Minutemen host Connecticut. “In calm times it’s easy to talk about it, but what happens when things don’t go your way. How do you respond? We have some sense of it from practice, but the heat of the moment is always a little bit different than the heat of practice.”

According to junior forward Michael Pereira, the heat of practice has been increased by a few degrees. The combination of the coaching staff’s increased tempo and the players trying to prove themselves to the coaches has led to elevated play and energy.

“The practices have been uptempo. There’s no waiting around, waiting to go. Guys are eager to come to the rink. We just need to keep this attitude throughout the whole year. I think if we do we’re going to be a pretty scary team,” he said. “Everyone re-evaluates themselves. How you were last year doesn’t matter. It’s a new beginning. Everyone has something to prove. Everyone has a chip on their shoulder. They want to make something happen. That not only makes players better, but our team better.”

Conor Allen agreed.

“Everyone is moving really fast trying to impress the coaches. We look good. We look fast. Hopefully we can get it going Friday night,” he said. “We’ve been flying out there. Everyone has a clean slate. We’re all just trying to get in the lineup. Everything feels a little different. On the ice. In the locker room. The way everything is set up. The line of communication is different. Guys are really excited. We ended the season on a low note getting swept, but we were playing really well at the end of the year. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

For the most part, Micheletto has been pleased with what they’ve shown him.

“I think they look good. You want everything to change overnight, but you understand that that’s not going to be the way that it is. Habits aren’t formed overnight,” he said. “I like where our mind is right now. Our execution has been not very far behind. Overall it’s been pretty good.”

NO CAPTAINS YET — Nobody will be wearing a captain’s “C” when the Minutemen debut Friday night. Micheletto said he hadn’t determined who’d fill that role yet.

“That’s our plan right now. At this point we’ll probably play Friday without one,” he said.

GOALIES — With three goalies competing for playing time, Micheletto said it could be a long time before roles are sorted out.

“Steve Mastalerz has gotten healthy recently and made it that three-man race we were talking about,” Micheletto said. “He, Jeff (Teglia) and Kevin (Boyle) have done a nice job so far. We’re asking them to do two things: Control rebounds and give us a chance to win every night.”

MISCELLANEOUS — UMass’ home-and-home games with Providence in January have switched locations to avoid a scheduling conflict. The Jan. 11 game is now at the Mullins Center, while the Jan. 12 game is in Rhode Island.

Brock Hines, who has called UMass hockey games on the radio since the program was exhumed in 1993, will move from his analyst role to play-by-play this season. Local veteran broadcaster Adam Frenier takes over as the analyst as the broadcasts move to WHMP-AM (1400).

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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