Both UMass Hockey and New Hampshire “despair” of winning

Published: 2022-11-16 15:39:58

AMHERST — A total of 11 games of losing streaks will collide when the UMass hockey team visits New Hampshire on Friday.

The No. 16 Minutemen have lost five straight games, their longest losing streak since 2018 after Boston University beat them by a 12-3 aggregate score last weekend. The Wildcats (3-9-1, 0-8-1 Hockey East) have lost their last six games and occupy the Hockey East basement.

“Two pretty desperate teams trying to find a way to win a game,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “For us it will be about competition and execution. That was our focus. Another chance to win a game.”

The Minutemen (5-5-1, 1-5) have not won since beating Merrimack in overtime on Oct. 28. They’ve been plagued by injuries along the blue line in recent weeks. Aaron Bohlinger has missed the last three games. Noah Ellis was out for five of the six periods against the Terriers after leaving Friday’s game after the first period with an illness. UMass will be without Linden Alger for a measurable amount of time after breaking his leg on Saturday.

“You go into BU and lose 3 of your top 6 D, it’s going to be difficult to find ways to win,” Carvel said. “They scored a lot of goals against us and that’s an important reason.”

Another reason is the decline in goalkeeper performance. UMass looked like they had one of the best goalkeeping duos in the nation in their first six games as they conceded less than a goal per game with two shutouts. Both sophomore Luke Pavicich and Cole Brady, transfer from Arizona State, have struggled in the past month. UMass has passed five goals per game, and both Providence and BU have hung seven to the Minutemen at one point.

“When you go into the year with three inexperienced goalkeepers, it will take time to understand them all. I don’t think training is the best way to evaluate goalkeepers, games would be,” Carvel said. “Ideally, a goalie steps up and carries the weight.”

The Minutemen understand where the glitches happen. They’re not a bad hockey team, they just play bad.

“The most important thing for us is that we don’t have to worry about the loss record, it’s important to learn every day. We make a lot of mistakes, shooting ourselves in the foot a lot,” said UMass captain Eric Faith. “We are trying to correct these mistakes and keep building. It’s a long season. There are still many ways to go.”

Between injuries and turnover, UMass has regularly relied on more freshmen than it has been used to in recent seasons. The Minutemen will need everyone to get back to where they think they can be.

“It’s going to get all 20 guys on the ice every night. We have to make sure all the boys are on board,” Faith said. “For my part, I have to make sure that I’m there for the young people when they have questions or when they make mistakes and give them backing.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.