College Hockey Series of the Week: UMass vs. UMass Lowell
Hockey East is home to two of the best teams in the country, No. 8 UMass Amherst (18-9-2) and No. 15 UMass Lowell (15-9-5) will faceoff at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts on Friday night and then Saturday at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. A huge in-state rivalry that is guaranteed to be a classic.
UMass Amherst is coming off an impressive sweep of No. 15 Providence last weekend. Scoring eight goals in total while only allowing two during the entire series.
Under coach Greg Carvel, the Minutemen are averaging 3.21 goals per game and only allowing 1.90 goals per game.
Mitchell Chaffee, John Leonard, Jack Suter and Oliver Chau anchor the forwards. Chaffee leads all skaters in points with 29. The captain has produced 16 goals and 13 assists in 29 games this season. Leonard is the most lethal scorer, as he leads all skaters with 20 goals. Leonard has been clutch for the Minutemen, with four of his 20 goals being game-winners. Suter’s production has been unrivaled, posting a plus-minus rating of plus-22. Chau possesses an amazing vision on the ice, leading the forwards with 14 assists.
On the blue line, senior Jake McLaughlin has emerged as the number one defensemen. He’s posted the highest plus-minus rating of all Minutemen at plus- 24, alongside 11 assists and 13 points. New York Rangers prospect Zachary Jones has fared well in his first year at UMass Amherst. He leads all defensemen in assists with 15 and in points with 18. Fellow freshman Matthew Kessel possesses the most accurate shot of all defensemen with seven goals.
In hockey, having two productive goalies is a coach's dream. Coach Cavel has been blessed with goalies Matt Murray and Filip Lindberg. In 16 games, Murray is 10-5-0 with a save percentage of .921, a goals-against-average of 1.80 and two shutouts. Lindberg has been just as productive with a record of 8-4-2 in 16 games, a save percentage of .930, a goals-against-average of 1.79 and two shutouts of his own.
As for UMass Lowell, the River Hawks are coming off a tough weekend versus Northeastern in which they were swept in two games, 3-0 and 2-1. A close series, but a tough reality after defeating Merrimack and Boston College on the road to start February. Coach Norm Bazin’s River Hawks are averaging 2.62 goals per game and allowing 2.31 goals per game.
Up front, the River Hawks are led by a mix of under and upperclassmen. Freshmen Carl Berglund and Matt Brown have been the most productive forwards. Berglund leads all skaters in plus-minus and goals at 11. Most importantly, Berglund has been dominant on the ice when it matters, scoring three game-winning goals and four power-play goals. Brown leads all skaters in assists with 17 and points with 23. Fellow freshman Andre Lee and senior Kenny Hausinger have provided valuable secondary scoring, as both forwards have produced seven goals, 11 assists and 18 points.
Defensively, the River Hawks are led by sophomores Chase Blackmun and Jon McDonald. Blackmun is the most dominant offensive defensemen, generating four goals and 14 points. McDonald has been just as productive with 11 assists and 14 points to his name. Both sophomore Seth Barton and freshmen Nolan Sawchuk have provided depth on the blueline. Barton is second in assists among defensmen with nine, while Sawchuk leads all defensemen in plus-minus with a plus-6.
Between the pipes, Tyler Wall has been one of the more impressive goalies in the nation. In 27 games, the Hobey Baker nominee is 15-7-5 with a save percentage of .930, a goals-against-average of 2.09 and two shutouts.
This is a huge series for both teams due to the standings. UMass Amherst is tied with Boston College for first in Hockey East with 24 points and UMass Lowell is tied with Maine for fourth with 22 points. We are coming down the stretch of the regular season of college hockey and every point matters. Goaltending will have a huge impact in determining the series.
Prediction: Series split 1-1
Game 1: UMass Amherst 3, Umass Lowell 1
Game 2: Umass Lowell 2, Umass Amherst 1
Jordan Hession is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org