Trying to get back on track, UMass hockey heads north, women’s basketball travels east



Last modified: Saturday, January 10, 2015

Having lost four straight games and seven of its last eight, any good news is welcomed for the UMass hockey team.

So getting Ray Pigozzi, who missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury, back in the lineup is a positive for the Minutemen. The sophomore forward is tied for the team lead in assists (nine), leads the team in plus-minus (plus-5) and is a key piece of the power play. Pigozzi practiced Friday and is expected to play in the Catamount Cup. The Minutemen will face Providence at 4 p.m. Sunday, and Air Force at 7 p.m. Monday at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vermont.

“I think he will be available,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “That is our hope. If he doesn’t have any setbacks he should be available. It helps on five-on-five play and on the power play. When you lose a guy, who at the time was our leading scorer, it caused us to jostle a lot of things.”

Micheletto, who was visibly upset after his team’s 8-3 loss to Northeastern on Dec. 16, was in better spirits after watching his team practice Friday.

“It was a little bit of a break that allowed guys to get away from their studies and enjoy a little family time and re-energize both physically and mentally,” he said. “We got back at it today and there was a lot of energy. Guys had a lot of jump,” he said. “We’ve seen first halves and second halves go in completely opposite directions for teams. Teams that were ranked and then don’t make the tournament and teams with five or six wins that end up winning the Hockey East championship. I like where we think we can go based on the talent we have in the room. We have to continue to get healthy and stay healthy to accomplish the goals we have.”

With neither UMass goalie seizing the No. 1 job, freshman Henry Dill and senior Steve Mastalerz will try to establish themselves over the next several games.

“These next handful of weeks are important ones for someone to step forward and say, ‘Hey I’m the guy,’” Micheletto said. “I think that’s always the better thing to have a guy that can carry the bulk of the load, but there have been enough programs that have won riding (two goalies) in a rotation. It’s not set by any means.”

Sunday’s game against Providence will not count toward Hockey East standings. The Friars (9-6-1, 6-4-1) are ranked 16th in the country and are fourth in Hockey East after being picked first in the preseason poll.

Junior Trevor Mingoia leads PC in scoring with nine goals and 16 assists. Junior Jon Gillies has been the Friars’ top goalie with an 8-6-1 record, a 1.90 goals against average and a 91.1 save percentage.

Air Force (5-10-2) has lost three of its last four after being swept by Bentley 2-1 and 4-1 on Dec. 5th and 6th, respectively. It will play Vermont at 7 Sunday night before facing the Minutemen.

Senior Cole Gunner lives up to his name as Air Force’s leading scorer (six goals, 12 assists). Fellow seniors Scott Holm (seven goals, six assists) and Chad Demers (four goals, nine assists) are next with 13 points apiece.

Sophomore goalie Chris Truehl has played most of the minutes and earned all of the decisions. He has a 3.15 goals against average and .896 save percentage.

These will be UMass’ first two neutral site games this season. The Minutemen are 3-5-0 away from the Mullins Center and 1-9-0 at home.

Micheletto hoped the games would be a launching point.

“Wins weren’t coming as regularly as we’d liked them,” he said. “Having a good effort and feeling good would go a long way.”

MINUTEWOMEN IN BOSTON — After dropping a pair of close games in Georgia State’s Holiday & Hoops Classic on Dec. 19-20 in Atlanta, the UMass women’s basketball team will try to get back to .500 on Sunday at 2 p.m. when they travel to Boston University.

The Minutewomen (5-6) have yet to lose three straight games this season.

The Terriers (3-7) are 2-1 at home and head into Sunday’s game on a four-game losing streak with losses to New Hampshire, Yale, Rhode Island and Marist, the last of which was a 77-50 blowout by the Red Foxes.

Sophomore forward Meghan Green leads BU with 13.8 points per game and 7.5 rebounds, while senior forward Mollie McKendrick, a native of Australia, has averaged 10.1 points and 7.4 rebounds.

The game features a matchup between two of the best post players in women’s basketball history, albeit as assistant coaches. Former WNBA rivals Yolanda Griffith (UMass) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (BU) will be on opposite benches.

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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