UMass hockey confident heading to Boston for weekend matchups with NU, BC



Last modified: Tuesday, November 04, 2014

AMHERST — Patrick Lee is only three games into his career, but the UMass freshman hockey player, whose first goal with 9 seconds left pushed the Minutemen past Michigan State Saturday, is already deflecting and sharing credit like a seasoned veteran.

“Playing with Ray (Pigozzi) and (Steven) Iacobellis has made it easy. They’ve given me more confidence than the goal has,” Lee said after Tuesday’s practice. “Playing on their line has been the biggest thing. It’s been the best thing I could have hoped for.”

Lee was one of a full squad of happy Minutemen Tuesday, as the group took buoyed confidence into practice for a weekend series in Boston. UMass will play at Northeastern on Friday and at Boston College, Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

After a frustrating 8-1 loss to Boston University to open the season followed by a narrow 5-3 defeat on Oct. 17 in East Lansing, Michigan, UMass coach John Micheletto saw progress in the breakthrough win.

“We’ve been better every night. We didn’t respond well in the third period against BU. We talked about it, looked at it. We were in the same situation Friday night at Michigan State and I thought our guys battled their rear ends off,” he said. “That was a good lesson. It’s the early season and we have some fresh faces. To know what the expectation level and the effort level is regardless of score is important. We put that effort together with the execution on Saturday and you’re going to get good results when that happens.”

With a young team, Micheletto thought having their effort rewarded with a win was valuable.

“It puts wind in your sails. They’re mindful of the details so far and buying in to everything we’re saying,” he said. “To see it actually come to fruition and be reward helps to keep pushing guys forward.”

Northeastern (0-3, 0-1 Hockey East) has sputtered out of the gate. After losing their exhibition game to Acadia, the Huskies lost their opener, 6-2, to Vermont at home before being swept by Colgate in a pair of 3-0 losses in central New York.

It’s been 104 minutes, 38 seconds since NU has even scored. Senior defenseman Dax Lauwers and sophomore Mike Szmatula each had a goal against Vermont. Neither senior Clay Witt (0-2-0, 4.35 GAA, 84.8 save percentage) nor sophomore Derick Roy have played well in goal (0-1-0, 3.00, 92.3).

Micheletto wanted his players to match Northeastern’s hunger.

“I told them, ‘We know Northeastern is going to come in unhappy to be 0-3. I want us to be more unhappy at being 1-2 than they are at being 0-3,’” he said.

It’s unclear how angry BC is at being 1-1-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country. The Eagles (0-1-0 HE) lost their opener, 5-2, to undefeated and No. 7 UMass-Lowell, which is inexplicably ranked one spot behind the Eagles. BC bounced back and beat RIT, 6-2 last weekend.

Junior defenseman Teddy Doherty is off to a fast start with a goal and three assists, while sophomore forward Ryan Fitzgerald (two goals, one assist) and freshman forward Zach Sanford (three assists) each have three points. Sophomore Thatcher Demko (1-1, 3.03 GAA, .880) is BC’s only goalie to see action for far.

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


 


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