Series of the Week: No.1 UMass Amherst vs. No. 8 Northeastern
With the championship race already heating up in Hockey East, No. 1 University of Massachusetts-Amherst (17-3) and No. 8 Northeastern University (14-4-1) will square off for supremacy atop the standings.
The UMass Minutemen will enter the weekend series just one point ahead of the Huskies. This series will determine who leads the conference heading into next week.
The Minutemen have a quartet of players that really stand out on the stat sheet and on the ice.
Mitchell Chaffee, Jacob Pritchard, Cale Makar and John Leonard have combined for 36 goals, 59 assists and 95 total points. Chaffee leads the team in goals with 13 on the season and Leonard leads in the assists category with 17.
The formidable freshman duo of Marc Del Gaizo and Bobby Trivigno have also been giving teams headaches throughout the season.
Del Gaizo and Trivigno have teamed up for 29 points which consists of 12 goals and 17 assists.
Between the pipes, UMass relies heavily on sophomore Matt Murray.
In 15 games, Murray has a record of 14-1 while allowing just 26 goals, an average of 1.74 goals per contest and holding a save percentage of .933.
Murray’s 1.74 goals against average per game puts him at sixth in the nation so far this season.
As a whole, the Minutemen surrender just a mere 1.9 goals per game, ranking third in the nation behind Bowling Green and Quinnipiac.
Northeastern has a stake in this weekend as a sweep would dethrone the No. 1 team in the nation while also moving them right into first place.
Offensively, the Huskies present balance and it shows on the stat sheet. Ten players have more than 10 points through 19 games thus far.
Junior forward Grant Jozefek has 19 points while averaging exactly one point per game. He is also second on the team with 10 goals, which is one goal behind sophomore forward Zach Solow.
The trio of Tyler Madden, Jeremy Davies and Brandon Hawkins presents a matchup disaster for opponents as they all have 18 points on the season. Davies also leads the Huskies in assists with 14.
Cayden Primeau has seen most of the action in net for Northeastern playing in 16 of the team’s 19 games.
The sophomore netminder holds a record of 12-3-1 with 35 goals allowed, a save percentage of .923 and a goal allowed average of 2.22.
As a team, The Huskies have allowed 1.99 goals per game, making them fifth in the nation.
Hockey East is one of College Hockey’s most competitive conferences with programs such as Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Providence College.
These programs have been reigning supreme for decades and this could be a golden opportunity for the Minutemen to really change the culture of the conference.
UMass is a program that has only been around for 23 seasons and is still looked upon as one of the younger programs in their conference and in the country.
Look for both sides to crank up the intensity from the get-go as two of Massachusetts’ shining stars will get after it with NCAA Tournament seeding implications on the line.
The Huskies will travel to Amherst Friday to take on the Minutemen at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center. Saturday’s game will be back in Boston at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.
Prediction: UMass sweep.
Christopher Hess is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org