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UMass hockey looks to start fresh in Ledyard Classic

AMHERST — The holiday break came at a good time for the University of Massachusetts hockey team.

With just one win in their six games, coach John Micheletto hoped the Minutemen would be energized by a little time off before Sunday’s 4 p.m. game against Bemidji State in the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H.

“Regardless of how we went into it, a break is always good. It’s been my experience that guys are a little fried coming out of exams as a semester of school winds down,” Micheletto said. “Everyone is looking forward to getting home and recharging and getting a little bit of home cooking. I think it was a good thing for us whether we were on a winning streak or not. The break always seems to come at the right time.”

Micheletto said his team’s execution needed to improve to come away with better results.

“Our details weren’t as good. I don’t think it’s an earth-shattering revelation to anybody that if you don’t tend to the details, your game can get lost in a hurry,” he said. “Not that we were that far off our game, but the margin for error at this level is very small.”

BSU (5-8-3) might have been disappointed to see the break come. While the season has been a struggle at times, the Beavers were 2-0-1 in their last three games beating Minnesota-Duluth and earning a win and a tie against No. 14 Denver.

Senior forward Brance Orban leads the Beavers with 12 points (four goals, eight assists), followed by Jordan George (five goals, six assists) and Danny Mattson (two goals, nine assists).

Sophomore Andrew Walsh has taken over the No. 1 goalie job. He’s 4-4-2 with a 2.17 goals against average and a .929 save percentage.

The Minutemen (5-9-2) will face the winner or loser of Sunday’s game between Granite State rivals New Hampshire and Dartmouth. The championship (7 p.m.) or consolation game (4 p.m.) are Monday.

New Hampshire is the favorite to win the event. The Wildcats (11-2-2) are ranked No. 2 in the nation. One of their losses came when the Minutemen edged them 2-1 in overtime on Nov. 2 at the Mullins Center.

UNH is 7-1-1 since that loss. The Wildcats tied Colorado College on Nov. 23 and fell to Boston University on Dec. 6, the Wildcats’ last real game before their holiday break. UNH tied Team USA’s Under 18 team in an exhibition on Dec. 9.

Junior Kevin Goumas leads the Wildcats with eight goals and 16 assists. Sophomore Casey DeSmith has been one of the best goalies in the nation. He’s 10-2-2 with a 1.82 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.

If UMass plays UNH it will not count as a Hockey East game.

The Big Green (7-2-2) are ranked No. 10 and will have the advantage of playing at home. Dartmouth won back-to-back games over Vermont and Bentley entering the break. Tyler Sikura is UD’s top scorer with seven goals and 10 assists. Cab Morris (4-1-1, 1.97 GAA, .917 save percentage) and Charles Grant (3-1-1, 2.38 GAA, .921 save) have split time in goal.

HEALTH UPDATES — UMass forwards Evan Stack and Emerson Auvenshine could begin to work their way back from injuries shortly, while goalie Steve Mastalerz will be re-evaluated soon. Troy Power isn’t close to returning yet.

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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