By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin.
UMassD’s Men’s Hockey squad spent their Winter break clawing tooth and nail back to MASCAC relevance.
They say a watched pot never boils, and while the rest of us were enjoying the newly found freedoms of our month-long break off-campus, the Corsairs were playing their hottest January in years.
Following a comparably clumsy November and pedestrian but passable 2-1 December, UMassD started the season 5-7 and looked to be down and out of playoff contention.
Experiencing a sudden return to form in the following month, they turned on the jets and cruised to winning five of seven, including three straight wins in the week of our return and a 5-1 thrashing of Westfield State. Plymouth state, the current MASCAC powerhouse and conference leader, could only manage a tie against our Corsairs in an overtime bout.
The name of the game for this resurging men’s hockey team has been a blisteringly high-output offense. Games in the past stretch were often won along score lines of 5-1, 4-1, or the occasional 4-2.
The key to their “Greatest Show on Ice” -like offense was power play efficiency, taking every opportunity to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes by adding points to an already insurmountable lead. The game plan for this past 10-game stretch had been to overwhelm and smother opponents with goals, and so far, it has certainly been working in UMassD’s favor.
Accounting for the Corsairs’ incredible scoring output has been a revolving carousel of players like Jimmy Pelton, Eric Bolden, and Brendan McDonough. The latter, McDonough, as a senior at UMassD, has turned into somewhat of an assist machine, accounting for a grand total of 20 Corsair points on the season.
It would be wrong to write this team off as an all-offense no-defense glass cannon, however. Sophomore goalie Parker Butler had a difficult November with the Corsairs, but bounced back with his teammates and became the one man shutdown unit this team needed. He ends January boasting a 91.5% save percentage in his eleven starts in goal.
No better game represents the Corsair hockey team’s return to form than their matchup at home against Plymouth State. Down 3-1 at the end of the second, strong power play performance out of Jimmy Pelton and Steven Leonard tied the game with under five minutes remaining in the third period.
Regulation ended in a tie, and the Corsairs endured the entirety of a scoreless overtime period against what was projected to be the best team MASCAC had to offer. UMassD’s hockey team has all the pieces in place to upset conference leadership and play toward championship hopes… all they have left to do is execute.
Looking like world-beaters in their newest form, the Corsairs climbed to a respectable 10-8-1 season record, taking a healthy hold of the current second seed in MASCAC.
As Plymouth State leads the conference with only 10 wins, a single UMassD win and Plymouth State loss would put the Corsairs in the driver’s seat with the postseason looming.
Six games remain, including a rematch against the aforementioned Plymouth State, granting the Corsairs just enough opportunities to lead MASCAC.
In their next match, at Fitchburg State on the 30th, the Corsairs will show if they believe their season deserves a March extension.