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Michael Pereira, UMass hockey look to score against Providence

AMHERST — The timing of Providence’s arrival in Amherst might be ideal for University of Massachusetts junior forward Michael Pereira.

The last time he faced the Friars he scored three goals and tonight’s 7 p.m. game at the Mullins Center marks his next chance to end his season-long goal drought.

Pereira, who has played well despite not scoring, wasn’t fretting yet.

“It’s something I’m not really worried about as long as I’m playing my game. I’m going to start my season this weekend. I’m going to let go of anything that’s happened the past six games and just really focus on what’s got me here,” said Pereira, who scored 17 goals last year. “It’s been a little bit frustrating, but I’m going to put that all behind me and I’m going to be the guy our team needs me to be, whether that’s in the locker room or on the ice.”

UMass coach John Micheletto said Pereira hasn’t succumbed to any of the panic moves often employed by players trying to shake a slump.

“Mike’s worked hard. He’s put himself in good spots. He hasn’t cut corners. You see a lot of guys that are not having the offensive success that they’re used to, start to do things their own way, start to cut corners trying to spring themselves,” Micheletto said. “Mike’s been diligent. He’s been a good team guy. As a reward for doing it the right way, I’d like to see something break for him. I think it’s going to happen. Mike is a good player. Mike has always been a good player. Mike will continue to be a good player. I’m not worried about it.”

Tonight will be UMass’ first game since its season opener against Connecticut that the Minutemen will face a team that’s ranked outside of the top 12. UMass (2-4-0, 1-4-0 Hockey East) upset New Hampshire and hung with Boston College twice and Boston University twice, but came away empty-handed.

“Battle-tested is a good way to put it. There was no way we could ease into things so we’ve seen a lot situationally. Things that you might not see until you’ve been through half a season, we’ve been through in six games here,” Micheletto said. “I’d like to think we’re a little more seasoned than a normal team would be after six games. I’d like to think we’re going to be better as a result of it.”

His players agreed.

“We definitely made some strides last weekend to really declare ourselves one of the better, scarier teams in this conference. I think we’ve known this going out,” Pereira said. “We need to get winning as part of our DNA here. A lot of guys aren’t going to tolerate losing any more. Our locker room as a whole doesn’t tolerate losing. We have to close out games and bare down when the time comes.”

Senior captain Rocco Carzo said he thought the Minutemen were close to breaking through.

“There’s lots of positives,” he said. “We’ve hung in with the top teams. I feel like we have been tested and that we’ve risen up. The next part is the mental part, closing out games. It’s going to come.”

After last weekend’s split with Vermont, the Friars are 4-3-1 overall, 3-2-0 in the conference. Senior defenseman Myles Harvey leads PC with seven points, all on assist, while sophomore Ross Mauerman (four goals, two assists) and freshman Mark Jankowski (three goals, one assist) have been their top goal-scoring threats.

Freshman goaltender John Gillies has started all eight games and has a 1.80 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.

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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