UMass hockey looks to build off 2-0 start when it hosts Sacred Heart Friday



Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2015

AMHERST — Coming off last year’s 11-23-2 season, getting two wins in the first weekend would certainly have been something to be excited about for the UMass hockey team, no matter how they came.

But against Colorado College on Friday, the Minutemen got up big early and held on 6-3. On Saturday they fell behind 3-0, but rallied with four third-period goals to win 4-3.

“The fact that we could both play with a lead and hold a lead and come back all in the same weekend were good things for our group,” UMass coach John Micheletto said.

Senior Shane Walsh agreed.

“The first game we were up big early and they got back in the game and we had fight them off at the end. In Game 2, we were down by three going into the third. It was just a character win,” he said. “In the locker room after the second period there was a ton of belief in the room. It’s just nice to show that we can win both ways. It’s a great stepping stone for the season.”

The Minutemen (2-0-0) will try to take another step at home Friday when they host Sacred Heart (0-0-1) at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

The weekend was a stepping stone for Walsh too. An occasional scorer over the first two-and-a-half seasons of his career, Walsh broke out at the end of the 2014-15 season, with 12 of his 14 goals coming after Jan. 1. While freshman Austin Plevy’s four-goal, one-assist weekend garnered a lot of attention at Colorado College, Walsh matched his point total with three goals and two assists. The offensive contributions picked up where Walsh left off and appear to be evidence that his late surge last year wasn’t just a hot streak.

“I didn’t feel that much pressure. I’m pretty confident in my ability. I just played the game the way I know how to play it,” Walsh said. “Obviously it’s nice to score a goal in the first game so you’re not pressing. I just went out there and played my game and tried to impact the game as well as I could.”

With so few seniors Micheletto said having Walsh make an impact was critical.

“He gained a little momentum in the second half of the year. You hope you don’t lose that over the summer. We only have two seniors,” Micheletto said. “We need those guys to be productive and stable. For Shane to come out and do what he did was really, really important to establish himself as a dependable guy.”

Sacred Heart tied Union to open the season. The Pioneers were picked fifth in the Atlantic Hockey League after a 13-19-6 record last year. They return 10 of their top 12 scorers and five of their top six defensemen.

Freshman goalie Brett Magnus played against Union and made 31 saves.

HOMECOMING — The game kicks off the athletic portion of homecoming weekend at UMass. Fans can buy football and hockey tickets for a combined price of $30 per person.

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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