UMass hockey weighing present and future in regular season finale at Maine

  • Michael Cameron and the UMass hockey team will end the regular season with two games at Maine this weekend. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • Cole O'Hara and the UMass hockey team will end the regular season with two games at Maine this weekend. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/2/2023 3:46:36 PM
Modified: 3/2/2023 3:52:56 PM

The past, present and future of the UMass hockey team will converge in its final regular season series.

The Minutemen will visit Maine for two games Friday and Saturday (7:05 p.m. ESPN-Plus). Former UMass assistant Ben Barr is in his second year leading the Black Bears. They swept Boston College last weekend and are in position to host a Hockey East tournament preliminary round game.

“[Barr’s] been gone for almost two years. Seems like a while. I guess only thing when I watch them play, I just kind of look to see what things he took from us or what things he changed. But really, once the puck drops, it's not that big a deal,” UMass coach Greg Carvel. “I'm a huge fan of Ben, a huge supporter. One of my favorite people I've worked with in hockey, so very proud, very grateful for the time that we had together.”

After finishing last in Hockey East a season ago, the Black Bears (15-13-5, 9-9-4 Hockey East) are sixth in the conference standings. They can potentially get to fifth by sweeping the Minutemen (11-16-5, 5-14-3), depending on other results.

UMass is 10th in the 11 team league and could improve its standing with a strong weekend at the Harold Alfond Sports Arena in Orono. But standings aren’t top of mind for the Minutemen.

“We’re trying to play good hockey, trying to learn, trying to develop players, trying to get our young guys (minutes). You get to a point where you look to the future when you’re having the season we’re having,” Carvel said. “We haven't won enough games and there's a reason for it. We just keep trying to figure out what that reason is and attack it.”

The Minutemen have regularly dressed five or more freshmen throughout the season. First-year forwards Kenny Connors and Michael Cameron co-lead the team with nine goals. UMass’ most recent class has accounted for 34.9 percent of the Minutemen’s goals this season and has produced 40 assists.

“We’re not fighting for position right now. We’re trying to figure things out. Some things are about the future,” Carvel said.

The Black Bears are 4-0-3 in their last seven games and haven’t lost in regulation since Feb. 3 against No. 7 Boston University. They lead Hockey East with seven shorthanded goals and haven’t allowed their opponents to score when up a man.

Maine junior goalie Victor Ostman is first in the league with a .926 save percentage and tied for the conference’s lowest goals against average (2.05).

Junior forward Lynden Breen, the reigning Hockey East player of the month, leads Maine with 17 goals (second in Hockey East) and 30 points. 

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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