UMass hockey takes three-game win streak to New Hampshire

  • UMass junior defenseman Ty Farmer skates against UConn on Dec. 23 at the Mullins Center. UMass visits New Hampshire on Wednesday. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass junior defenseman Ty Farmer skates against UConn on Dec. 23 at the Mullins Center. UMass visits New Hampshire on Wednesday. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Sports Editor
Published: 12/29/2020 5:09:28 PM

Ty Farmer learned a lot about his game sitting high above the ice at the Mullins Center.

The UMass junior defenseman was a healthy scratch in the season-opener against UConn, then missed nearly a month with an injury he suffered early in game two against the Huskies. He spent his time off the ice having conversations with head coach Greg Carvel about what was expected from him.

“I wasn’t meeting the standard at first,” Farmer said. “Being up the stands gave me the opportunity to really dissect my game and find out what he wants and what he needs and what the teams needs.”

Farmer returned to the lineup 10 days ago and the ninth-ranked Minutemen (5-3-1, 5-3-1 Hockey East) have won three straight. They have allowed three goals with one shutout during that time.

“I decided to simplify things,” he said. “I think I was trying to overdue certain areas. I could have just made it easier on myself in the beginning, that goes along with not playing a game in a year. I was rusty in the beginning, I wasn’t quite up to speed with what he wanted and I made those changes right away.”

UMass swept a home series from Vermont, then followed that with a mid-week victory over UConn before Christmas. The Minutemen visit New Hampshire for a 3:30 p.m. (1400 AM) puck drop on Wednesday. They play No. 13 Northeastern in a home-and-home series that starts in Boston on Friday night.

Carvel was pleased to have his steady defenseman back in the lineup.

“These kids get to a point where they think they have to do more than we’re asking and those expectations become a mental drain,” Carvel said. “I just wanted him to play right, play hard and good things will happen, and I think since his return from injury he’s been great. I think he really adds to our back end when he’s just using his abilities: very mobile, good puck skills. We don’t need him to score goals to win games. We need him to just be a responsible player and he’ll add to our offense by just playing wisely.”

Redshirt senior Carson Gicewicz has seen a similar renaissance, but with more playing time. The transfer from St. Lawrence went pointless through the first three games, but a move from center to wing early in the season gave him a spark. He has nine points over the last six games. Gicewicz had two goals in game two against Vermont, and two goals and one assist against UConn. He was named Hockey East Player of the Week for the first time.

The position change “gives me the opportunity to get going, fly out of the zone,” he said. “That’s kind of what we try to do and that way I get up ice and put myself in some more scoring positions.”

Understanding Carvel’s system also helps.

“When you are not thinking about what you are supposed to do it makes the game a lot simpler,” Gicewicz.

New Hampshire is the first of three games in four nights for the Minutemen. The Wildcats (1-0-1, 1-0-1) opened with a series against Maine on Dec. 11-12, but have been off since.

“These are all good teams so it will be a challenge,” Carvel said. “We went into the COVID year knowing that we are going to have to face these (stretches), and I’ll tell you I have no problem with it.”

The early start is nothing new for UMass. Gicewicz said the team is still getting used to the early starts, but the other team has to play at the same time.

“The schedule is never the same,” Gicewicz said. “We’re definitely getting used to 3:30 and all game times. ... Everyone is getting used to it. We’re all fighting the same battle. I don’t think there is any advantage for anybody.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.


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