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UMass hockey kicks off busy athletic weekend

If the University of Massachusetts hockey team wants to make a move in the Hockey East standings, it will have no better opportunity than this weekend.

The seventh-place Minutemen will host sixth-place Lowell Friday then travel to Tsongas Arena Saturday. Both games are a 7 p.m.

UMass (10-13-2, 7-10-1 Hockey East) is three points back of the Riverhawks (14-9-2, 8-8-2, 18 points).

Lowell had an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) end when it lost back-to-back games to Merrimack and Maine on Feb. 1 and 3. Last weekend’s blizzard prevented the Riverhawks from playing.

Junior Joseph Pendenza leads Lowell in scoring with nine goals and 13 assists. Junior goalie Doug Carr has played most of the minutes in goal with an 8-8-1 record and a 2.79 goals against average.

MEN’S LACROSSE HEADS SOUTH — After dominating Army 16-9 in their opener Sunday, the 12th-ranked Minutemen will get tested Saturday at 1 p.m. when they face No. 4 North Carolina at Kennesaw State in Atlanta.

The Tar Heels crushed Air Force 16-8 in their opener Saturday.

UNC advanced to the NCAA tournament last year but fell to Denver in the first round.

Senior Marcus Holman leads Carolina after scoring 39 goals and 35 assists last year.

SOFTBALL OPENS — The Minutewomen will flee the snow, cold and indoor practices at Boyden Gym to open their season at the Florida Atlantic Kick-Off Classic in Boca Raton.

UMass will play LIU-Brooklyn (9 a.m.) and Toledo (11 a.m.) Friday; Maryland (4 p.m.) and FAU (6 p.m.) on Saturday and No. 15 Michigan (11 a.m.) on Sunday.

UMass returns its top two hitters in Cyndil Matthew (.409, 36 stolen bases) and Quianna Diaz-Patterson (.327, 41 RBIs).

WOMEN’S LAX HOME OPENER — After going 1-1 last weekend in California, the women return home to face LIU-Brooklyn Saturday. The Blackbirds finished 1-15 a year ago.

Junior Shakoya Smith is LIU’s top remaining scorer. She had 47 goals and three assists last year.

ELSEWHERE — The men’s and women’s indoor track & field teams will travel to Rhode Island for the Atlantic 10 championship meet. ... The women’s tennis team will host St. Bonaventure, Saturday at 3 p.m. and Fairleigh-Dickenson, Sunday at 3 p.m.

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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