UMass hockey finally returns home after successful Friendship Four for remach with UMass Lowell

  • The UMass hockey team will have a chance to celebrate goals on home ice for the first time in weeks when the Minutemen host UMass Lowell at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Minutemen haven't played at home since Nov. 11. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2022 8:41:16 PM

AMHERST – The Friendship Four gave the UMass hockey team about everything that it could ask for. The Minutemen went undefeated against two ranked teams, besting rival UMass Lowell and drawing then-No. 4 Quinnipiac. They visited the Guinness factory in Dublin and the Giant’s Causeway off Northern Ireland’s northern coast. Schoolchildren grilled coach Greg Carvel about his salary.

“Went as well as we hoped it would. We learned a lot going six years ago. I thought we we planned our trip much better. I thought it (director of hockey operations) Steve Trachtenberg did an outstanding job with the details,” Carvel said. “It was smooth. Weather was great people were wonderful. Really the only negative was the ice conditions at the SSE arena. Pretty bad. But other than that, it was outstanding.”

The conditions can be forgiven for a nation that has few rinks and one professional team. UMass spent longer in Europe than when it participated in 2016 and took that time to soak up the countryside and hospitality.

“It was fun to just get in the bus and drive around the countryside,” Carvel said. “Then we played well on the ice. So a lot of positives.”

Losing the Belpot trophy in a shootout, the ice conditions and jet lag count among the minimal negatives. The No. 15 Minutemen returned stateside Monday to prepare for a rematch with the 16th-ranked River Hawks at 7 p.m. Saturday (NESN+).

“I think you have to give enough time for them to recover physically and mentally. The trip was a lot of fun, but it's It's taxing both ways,” Carvel said. “So this week it's important that we manage our guys and even more important just try to get a thumb on the heartbeat of where they're at and make sure we’re ready to play on Saturday. We should have enough time to manage them correctly to have them ready to go.”

UMass (7-5-2, 3-5 Hockey East) hasn’t played on home ice since Nov. 11 against Boston University. In fact, no UMass team has hosted a game at the Mullins Center since Maine visited the women’s basketball team Nov. 14.

“It’s been a long time. I'm sitting here looking at my office window. I've seen that basketball floor down for about a month,” Carvel said. “It's time for it to come up and get some hockey going in this building again.”

HONORS FROM ACROSS THE POND – Two UMass player received weekly Hockey East honors from their performances at the Friendship Four. Freshman forward Kenny Connors was named the league’s rookie of the week after three points and two goals over the weekend. He leads the Minutemen with 16 points.

Luke Pavicich was named Hockey East Goalie of the Week after saving 63 of 66 shots and going 1-0-1. Two of the three goals he allowed came on the power play.

ON TARGET – UMass leads Hockey East and ranks fourth nationally converting 12.2 percent of its shots to goals. 

“I attribute it to how we play. We get out shot pretty consistently and I don't care,” Carvel said. “

The Minutemen still possess the nation’s best power pl

STRONG TESTS – Quinnipiac moved from No. 4 to No. 2. Denver remained at No. 1, which means UMass is 2-0-1 against the top two teams in the country.

“We're capable of playing with the best teams and we just have to do it more consistently. I’m starting to really like this club,” Carvel said. “We went through that bad stretch. And there are reasons for it, but I think this group is capable of playing better hockey than they are, but they're trending in a good way and I see a lot a lot of positives right now.”

Sseven Hockey East teams are ranked, including N0. 8 UConn, No. 9 BU, No. 10 Providence, No. 12 Merrimack and No. 18 Northeastern, while Boston College is receiving votes.

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