By Eileen Flynn ’20
This particular season of hockey has been very competitive; however, there is one team that has had a difficult season and has proven their talents. I believe the University of Massachusetts-Amherst hockey team will win this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament. With a very tough schedule, UMass gained respect and attention throughout the season as they beat out teams like Providence College, Boston University, and the University of Maine. They have an impressive 30-9 record this season, making them a top four team in the nation all year. Maybe even more impressive is their 18-1 home record at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen came up short in the Hockey East semifinals against Boston College, and I believe this is exactly what they needed to push them harder in the weeks leading up to the NCAA tournament. This acted as a wake-up call to the Minutemen and helped them realize what needed to change before they took on stronger and more talented teams at the national level.
They have a star studded roster, with solid depth behind them that is ready to go the distance in the NCAA. The defensive end is held down by Hobey Baker Finalist and generational talent, Cale Makar. The sophomore captain was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft and has led the team with 48 points in 39 games so far this season. On the front end, the trio of Jacob Pritchard, Mitchell Chaffee, and John Leonard have put up a staggering 125 points combined this season. This is all tied together with the second-ranked keeper in the nation, Filip Lindberg, who has a remarkable save percentage of .939.
The team demonstrated their ambition to prove they are the best team in the nation when they dominated Notre Dame University in the West Regional game. UMass came out fast and furious, determined to get the first goal of the game. After one came another, and then the rest was history. Once UMass starts rolling, it is very hard for any team to stop them. In the games versus both Harvard and Notre Dame, UMass led in scoring opportunities and completely controlled the game. They outscored their opponents by a total of 8-0, while also outshooting them by a large margin of 70-30.
UMass is headed to face the University of Denver next. If UMass continues to play like they have been this entire year, they should secure a spot in the National Championship game. The tough schedule UMass faced throughout the season has prepared them to take on a strong team like Denver.