Hockey East Playoff Berth On The Line As UMass Faces Merrimack In Regular Season Finale
Looking to secure a berth in the Hockey East playoffs, UMass will face #12 Merrimack in a pair this weekend, beginning on Friday night in Amherst before heading to North Andover on Saturday. Prior to Friday's Mullins Center finale, the Minutemen will honor the four seniors from this year's squad: Danny Hobbs, Michael Marcou, Kevin Moore and T.J. Syner.
UMass enters the final weekend of the regular season in a tie with Northeastern for the eighth and final playoff spot with 20 points, with the Huskies set for a home-and-home with Boston Universtiy this weekend. The Minutemen hold the tiebreaker over the Northeastern provided Boston College or Boston University finish as the No. 1 team in the standings.
Both games this weekend will be carried on the Flagship Station of UMass Athletics, 100.9 FM KIX with John Hennessy calling the play-by-play and Brock Hines providing color commentary. The pregame show for both games will begin 30 minutes prior to the opening face-off. Links for streaming video, audio, and live stats can be found at UMassAthletics.com.
Selected home games throughout the season will be televised on CBS3 Now. Streaming video is also available through UMass All-Access (www.umassathletics.com/allaccess). This is a for-fee service which works best on high-speed internet. All home games will be available through the package.
The Series With Merrimack
UMass enters the home-and-home weekend with Merrimack holding a 34-35-5 all-time record against the Warriors, including a 24-14-1 mark in Amherst and a 10-21-1 mark in North Andover.
Merrimack took the earlier meeting between the two teams 4-3 on Feb. 4 at the Mullins Center thanks to a Jeff Velleca game-winning goal with just two seconds left in regulation. The victory for the Warriors extended their streak to six straight wins in the series. UMass last defeated Merrimack on Dec. 12, 2009, in Amherst. The squad's last road victory in the series came on Mar. 8, 2008, a 4-2 win for the Mass Attack.
This weekend against the Warriors will mark UMass' 14th and 15th meetings against a ranked foe this season.
Story Lines: Merrimack
UMass is 6-8-1 over the last 15 games with seven of those contests against teams ranked in the top-11 nationally - two of those wins came on the road
The Minutemen's 4-2 win over New Hampshire last Saturday snapped a seven-game winless streak against the WIldcats, UMass' first victory over UNH since Nov. 13, 2009 in Amherst.
With the split at Maine, UMass is now 6-6-1 against ranked teams which includes a pair of wins against teams ranked No. 1 in the country
UMass holds the season series against the both Vermont and Boston College and split with Northeastern (1-1-1), Boston University (1-1-1), and Maine (1-1-1)
The Minutemen have been strong on the penalty kill as of late, including a 5-5 effort vs. Providence, a 6-6 effort against Boston College and a perfect 3-for-3 over two gamges against New Hampshire last weekend. Over the past two weekends, UMass' opponents have been held to a 1-for-10 clip (10%) with man advantage.
UMass has a power play goal in six of the last eight games going 7-for-33 (21.2%) with the extra man
When allowing 4 or more goals this year, UMass is 0-14-1, however, when cutting that to 3-or-fewer, UMass is 12-1-3
Holding a lead or being tied after 2 periods has also been a good omen for UMass this year as the Minutemen are 12-2-3 (0-13-1 when trailing).
T.J. Syner was named one of 21 semifinalists for the 60th Walter Brown Award, as announced by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. The Walter Brown Award is given annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.
UMass' 8-4-3 record at home this year marks UMass' best home start since going 9-1-2 in 2006-07 ... UMass' best home record for a season was 13-2-0 in 1993-94 (11-0-0 home start) which was the program's first year after being dormant since 1979.
Michael Pereira has tallied eight goals and six assists for 14 points over the past 11 games, including a pair of scores in the 4-3 OT loss at Northeastern on Feb. 3 and his second hat trick of the year and of his career on Feb. 11 vs. Providence. Pereira has posted multi-point nights in four of the 11 contests in that stretch, including his second and third multi-goal games of year. His three goals against the Friars marked the fourth hat trick recorded by a member of the Minutemen this season. With assists in each of the contests against New Hampshire last weekend, Pereira extending his point scoring streak to six straight games, his longest streak of the season and tied for second-longest by a member of the Minutemen in 2011-12.
In the month of February, Joel Hanley racked up 9 points in eight games on four goals and five assists, second-most on the squad.. Prior to the Maine weekend, he had a five-game point scoring streak which was the longest by a UMass defenseman this season. He is currently tied for sixth in defenseman scoring among Hockey East teams with 22 points on six goals and 16 assists (0.69 ppg) and scored in both games last weekend vs. UNH.
Conor Allen posted 3 goals and 1 assist in the pair of wins over Holy Cross and Northeastern with a +3 rating. He became just the 3rd defenseman in UMass' Division I history to score a hat trick with all three of his goals coming vs. Holy Cross.
The line of T.J. Syner, Michael Pereira and Danny Hobbs combined for 10 points (4g, 6a) in the win over Bentley. All told for the Bentley/Providence weekend, the trio tallied 16 points (6g, 10a).