UMass hockey brings leading scorers to Hockey East play



Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2015

AMHERST — With three nonconference wins under its belt, the UMass hockey team will try to stretch its strong early start into Hockey East play.

The Minutemen will host New Hampshire, Friday at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center in both teams’ conference opener. Even though it’s early, UMass coach John Micheletto said a Hockey East game is different.

“You know your opponent a little bit better. Familiarity makes it different right away knowing more or less how they’re going to play,” he said. “You add in the element of two points on the line that can make a big difference in terms of our goals with playoffs and championships. It amps it up quite a bit, I would imagine, for our guys. It means a lot in the big picture for what we want to do.”

For all the preseason concerns that the Minutemen would struggle to score, their 5.0 goals per game is best in the conference, albeit with a small sample size. They’ve scored on a third of their power plays (5 for 15) and have move power-play goals than anyone else in Hockey East.

UMass has three players among the top six scorers in the conference. Sophomore Dennis Kravchenko leads the league in points (eight) and is tied for the lead in goals (four). Freshman Austin Plevy’s seven points have him tied for second, and he’s tied with Kravchenko with four goals. Senior Shane Walsh, who has three goals and three assists, is tied for fourth in points.

Micheletto said he’s liked what he’s seen, but is still trying to get better.

“You’re always trying to balance the short term with the long term,” he said. “I don’t know if the tinkering will be top to bottom, but we need to continue to extend our scoring production beyond our top two lines. With so many young guys on defense, we’re really trying to develop some rapport among the partners. There’s always a thought of how can we get better. We don’t want to be satisfied with where we are.”

New Hampshire, which was picked sixth in the Hockey East preseason poll, has struggled a bit out of the gate. The Wildcats (1-2) opened the year with a 7-3 win over American International before falling to St. Lawrence (3-2 OT) and Clarkson (4-3) at home last weekend.

Sophomore goalie Daniel Tirone has played all three games for UNH, but he’s near the back of the conference with a 3.30 goals against average and a 88.6 save percentage.

Senior Maxim Gaudreault (three goals, one assist) and junior Tyler Kelleher (two goals, two assists) share UNH’s lead in scoring.

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES — If the US College Hockey Online’s Top 20 were a top 25, the Minutemen would be ranked. They are third in the also receiving votes section making them the de facto No. 23 team in the nation. Eight Hockey East teams are either ranked or receiving votes.

UMASS ON NESN — Hockey East announced a resumption of its TV partnership with NESN Tuesday and 17 games will air either on NESN or NESN-Plus. UMass’ Feb. 12 game against Northeastern at the Mullins Center will be one of those 17 games, which also include four Hockey East Tournament games and one women’s game.

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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