From The Massachusetts Daily Collegian
By Matt Skillings
Coming off a 23-4-1 record last season, along with a trip to the ACHA national tournament, the UMass club hockey team is looking to build off its deep postseason run in the 2022-2023 season.
After a regular season that put the Minutemen at the top of the rankings in the northeast region, UMass earned a No. 1 seed heading into the Division II national tournament in Saint Louis. After starting 2-0 with victories over Ohio State and Trine University, UMass suffered a season ending defeat in a 4-3 overtime loss against Dakota College-Bottineau.
There will be a lot of turnover as the Minutemen enter the 2022-2023 season, having graduated 13 seniors and welcoming in 10 new freshmen. With so many new faces, captain Dan O’Leary emphasized the importance of cultivating a strong bond among players new and old.
“You feel like a leader from the start,” O’Leary said. “Nobody feels like they’re lower than anyone else. I think that’s the beauty of being a club team. We take ourselves seriously, but everyone steps in, so it’s pretty easy to be a leader on a team like that. Nobody’s afraid to speak their mind.”
Freshmen, despite their youth, are still expected to make an impact on the team from the start, as club president CJ Spillane says, “we have a very good group coming in, probably the most talented group I’ve seen.”
Although freshmen are expected to have roles on the team, veteran presence will play a big factor in the team’s overall success. The Minutemen will have back three of their top five scorers from last season: Scott Shorrock, Sean Prendergast and Jack McGrath. Shorrock, who averaged almost a point and a half per game last season, drew high praise from his fellow captain McGrath who says that he is “undoubtedly the most skilled player that I’ve ever played with in my life”
UMass will play a 27-game slate that puts it up against top teams from the northeast like Northeastern and Keene State, who were No. 2 and No. 3 in the final northeast conference rankings last season. The Minutemen will also travel outside of New England to places like Florida and Virginia, where they face off with top teams from across the country like Florida Gulf Coast and Trine University who were top ranking teams last season.
Shorrock says this difficult schedule helps the team prepare for postseason play, getting experience against teams they will likely face in the national tournament which will take place right in Massachusetts this year, at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough. This location will certainly add a little bit of extra incentive for players from the Massachusetts area, as O’Leary claimed that the seniors would love to win in their own backyard with friends and families able to be in attendance.
With a good mix of veterans and rookies, the Minutemen will look to get off to a strong start this Friday, September 30th at 7:30 p.m. against in-state rival Northeastern, in Amherst at the Mullins Center Community Ice Rink.
(Originally published at https://dailycollegian.com/2022/09/a-look-at-the-umass-club-hockey-2022-23-season/)