UMass hopes better play continues with a pair of home games against Notre Dame



Last modified: Saturday, January 10, 2015

AMHERST — UMass hockey coach John Micheletto didn’t want to call his team’s 11-1 loss to Vermont a line in the sand or rock bottom. But the Minutemen have played better since the Nov. 22nd blowout, a trend he hoped continued this weekend when they host Notre Dame, Friday and Saturday at the Mullins Center (both games at 7 p.m.).

“It was the perfect storm. We weren’t happy about it,” Micheletto said. “What this team has shown is great resilience and the ability to bounce back in the early going. We turned the page and moved on. We wanted to make sure one loss didn’t turn into a bunch of other losses. We tried to put it behind us and learn. It was a bad loss at home in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The rematch against the Catamounts came three nights later in Burlington, Vermont. UMass played much better against Hockey East’s top team, but still fell 3-1. The Minutemen bounced back and split with No. 14 Quinnipiac last weekend winning 3-2 on Friday before falling 3-1 on Saturday.

“It started on Tuesday,” Micheletto said. “We didn’t come out with the result we wanted, but certainly had a great effort and were the better team that night. We just didn’t score as many goals as they did. We built off Tuesday against Quinnipiac.”

Notre Dame (6-8-2, 2-2-2) arrives on a five-game winless streak. The Fighting Irish dropped games to Merrimack and UMass Lowell before tying the Riverhawks. They then lost to Union and Ohio State in their Shillelagh Tournament.

Notre Dame’s roster features 10 NHL draft picks led by junior Thomas DiPauli, whose rights are held by the Washington Capitals. He leads ND with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists). Junior Mario Lucia, a Minnesota Wild pick, leads the Irish with nine goals and is among their top scorers with 11 points.

Notre Dame has struggled on the power play scoring on a league-worse 6.6 percent (4 for 61).

Freshman goalie Cal Petersen, who was picked by the Buffalo Sabres, is 3-5-1 with a 2.98 goals against average. Undrafted sophomore Chad Katunar is 3-3-0 with a 2.57 GAA.

Micheletto thinks Notre Dame is better than its numbers indicate.

“They have a lot of talented players,” Micheletto said. “They’re going to give us a handful. We’re looking at them as a really good team.”

UMass (4-9-0, 1-7-0) has actually been better on the road this year (3-5-0) than it has at home (1-4-0). Micheletto would like to see this weekend start to turn that trend as well.

“To get a league win at home would be nice. We talk a lot about process,” Micheletto said. “I’d like to start by having a 60-minute effort that matches up with good execution Friday night. If we do that and put ourselves in position to win, we’ll feel good and show our home fans what we’ve accomplished. From there we’ll worry about Saturday.”

UMass gets 10 days off for finals after this weekend before hosting Northeastern on Dec. 16. That’s the first game where highly touted freshman defenseman Brandon Montour, who becomes eligible after the first semester ends, could play. Montour completed his junior hockey career last week. Last year’s United States Hockey League Player of the Year had six goals and 15 assists in 17 games for the Waterloo Blackhawks this season.

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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