The Recorder – UMass hockey notebook: Mullins Center brings extra advantages to Minutemen

AMHERST – UMass will want each merit the Mullins Center supplies when it opens its doorways Friday.

The No. 13 Minutemen are internet hosting the protecting nationwide champion and No. 1-ranked University of Denver in one in all faculty hockey’s premier nonconference matchups.

“Home ice should be an advantage. Denver traveling from long distance. Hopefully they have some delays in their flights. I think it’s good again with as many new players as we have playing on our ice and just getting more reps in game situations and a comfortable environment, I think is important,” UMass trainer Greg Carvel stated. “We’ve got to keep taking steps forward. I thought we did from Sacred Heart to AIC.”

UMass (0-0-1) performs on an Olympic-sized rink on the Mullins Center, which is 15 toes wider than the NHL rink the Minutemen performed on of their opener at AIC. They completed twelfth within the nation in attendance ultimate season averaging 4,306 enthusiasts in line with sport. UMass has completed within the best 15 in attendance each season enthusiasts had been allowed within the doorways since 2018-19.

“Our guys love the crowd, they love the student support. I’ve heard we’re close to sold out for Friday night, which is great,” Carvel stated. “It’s going to be a hell of an environment. It’ll be great. It’s why these kids play college hockey: big time game, big time environment, big time hockey.”

It’s the primary of 5 UMass video games in a row on the Mullins Center. The Minutemen host the Pioneers (2-0) on Friday and Saturday earlier than a two-sport sequence in opposition to Union subsequent weekend. Hockey East play opens with the primary a part of a house and residential in opposition to Merrimack in Amherst on Oct. 28.

“All the returning guys know what it’s like, and we’re excited to get back in front of ’em and the student section, everything like that. The new guys are excited to get their first experience,” UMass’ Cal Kiefiuk stated. “They don’t really know what it’s gonna be like, but I think they know it’s going to be pretty loud. It’s a unique environment.”

UMass highlighted one of the most eccentricities of the Mullins Center scholar phase the use of its personal gamers in a Twitter video. Some Minutemen shouted “U” from one aspect of the scholar phase and pointed to teammates at the different aspect that spoke back “Mass” and pointed again. They pounded at the glass. Defenseman Scott Morrow wore a reindeer onesie gown like stalwart Quinn McCarron, who has grow to be referred to as the UMass Reindeer Kid for his apparel. McCarron even seemed within the video himself to lead the gamers thru “Let’s Go UMass” and “Valley Solar” chants and emphasised to repeat them simply thrice.

“It was fun. Not much of an actor, but I tried to do my part,” UMass senior Reed Lebster stated.

Students may even bow to the UMass goalie and chant “sexy goalie” at him whilst showering opposing goalies with “ugly goalie” jeers and reply “thank you” when the PA announcer signifies there’s one minute ultimate within the duration.

“It’s a huge difference, the students and the energy they bring. It gives us energy and gives us momentum in the game,” Kiefiuk stated. “It helps us stay up and it gets us more into a game early when it’s loud.”

BIG WEEKEND – UMass isn’t the one Hockey East workforce stepping to best flight pageant. Ohio State is visiting UConn. Michigan and Boston University are squaring off, as are UMass Lowell and Michigan State. 

“The thing that is probably the most important is these are really important for pairwise. You need your league to win these games,” stated Carvel, referencing the method that comes to a decision who makes the NCAA Tournament and the seeds. “The first thing is that you want your team to play well and try to find a way to win games, but the next thing to me is how important it is to get teams to the NCAA tournament.”

That places Carvel in a extraordinary place to root for groups that UMass desires to beat later within the season. He was once looking at UMass Lowell host Miami ultimate weekend and located himself pulling for the River Hawks.

“It’s an awkward feeling,” Carvel stated. “That’s our rival, yet I’m going ‘come on.’ I hope they win, but it doesn’t feel good to say it out loud.”

LINES IN THE SAND – Three of UMass’ 4 ahead traces in its opener in opposition to AIC have been divided by way of magnificence. Seniors Cal Kiefiuk, Michigan State switch Josh Nodler and Reed Lebster skated at the best line, whilst sophomores Taylor Makar, Lucas Mercuri and Ryan Lautenbach have been on the second one line. Freshmen Tyson Dyck, Kenny Connors make up line No. 4.

“We’re trying to build chemistry that way,” Carvel stated.

The best line additionally stocks equivalent roots. All 3 grew up in Michigan. Kiefiuk and Nodler performed along with the Honeybaked Youth program, the place they once in a while skated in opposition to Lebster and his Fox Motors squads.

“We obviously all know each other from the past so it makes it easy to build those relationships,” Kiefiuk stated. “Lebby’s a little bit further away than us, me and Nod lived a little bit closer. We enjoy it, we always kind of talk a little bit of trash to each other about whose town’s better.”

DROP THE PUCK – The NHL season opened Tuesday night time, and there are 10 former Minutemen on opening night time rosters: Justin Braun (Philadelphia), Mario Ferraro (San Jose), Joe Hanley (Dallas), Matt Irwin (Washington), Zac Jones (New York Rangers), Cale Makar (Colorado), Brandon Montour (Florida), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles), Conor Sheary (Washington) and Frank Vatrano (Anaheim)

Kyle Grabowski can also be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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