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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston hockey may set the bar this season

Hunter Berry
UMass Boston men’s hockey takes a shot at their game against UMass Dartmouth on Oct. 28, 2022. Photo by Hunter Berry / Mass Media Staff

Once again, Friday and Saturday nights have become hockey night in Columbia Point. UMass Boston’s men’s and women’s hockey teams began their season this past Friday, with the men’s team holding their home opener against UMass Dartmouth, and the women’s team traveling to Suffolk for their season opener. The teams are looking to improve on their previous season, both of which came to an abrupt end after they both ended up losing in the first round of the New England Hockey Conference tournament. The men’s team finished with an admirable 14–8–4 record and performed even better in conference games when they went 10–4–4 (1). Meanwhile, the women’s team had an underwhelming 12–13 overall record last season, but they played solid when it counted most and finished with an 11–7 record against conference opponents (2).

Of course, both the men’s and women’s teams have aspects of their game to improve on, that way their ticket to the NEHC tournament isn’t short lived this season. Last year, both teams suffered losses at home in the first round of the tournament, and the real kicker was that both teams played the teams they were eliminated by just a week prior. Men’s hockey’s 5–3 loss to Skidmore college in the tournament as the third seed came seven days after they played them at Skidmore college, with that game ending in a 2–2 tie. Women’s hockey faced off against Castleton as the fourth seed and lost to them in heartbreaking fashion, dropping the game 3–2 in overtime, after losing to them by the same score in regulation eight days before the tournament game.

The biggest struggles for both teams—that if worked on could help improve their records greatly—were when they played on the road, or against non-conference opponents. Men’s hockey, while having an even record in non conference play at 4–4, had their fair share of problems when playing on the road, after finishing the year off with a 3–4–3 record as the visitor. For women’s hockey, the case was flipped; their 5–6 record on the road was—although still with room for improvement—a decent record as the visiting opponent. However, it was their 1–7 record in non-conference games that was their fatal flaw, which ultimately played a huge role in their sub .500 record for their season.

There were still a lot of positives that came out of last year for both teams, and that revolves around the ability to win conference games, and putting on a show while doing so. The women’s team got their first win of last season in a conference bout against New England College, sinking the Pilgrims and blowing them out of the water in a 7–1 rout. Other notable wins for the women’s team included a 7–3 defeat of Salem State, an 8–1 barnburner against Johnson and Wales, and a 6_1 beating of Plymouth State in a blowout.

All of these games contributed to an 11–7 conference record, and the men’s team did much of the same when they finished 10–4–4 in conference play, and an outstanding record of 9–3–1 at home. The men’s team saw the same offensive firepower as that of the women’s, with notable blowouts against Southern Maine, shedding the huskies of their morale in a 9–3 blowout, an 11–0 win against Castleton in a massacre of the Trojans, and back-to-back blowouts against Johnson and Wales that saw the Beacons run wild instead of the wildcats. If both teams can keep that pace of play for the entirety of the season, there’s no question that both teams would be contenders for the NEHC championship. However, it’s a matter of keeping the same intensity and drive against all teams and executing with the same game plan against tougher opponents that helps propel the Beacons to the top.

The Beacons stand higher than most in the preseason NEHC rankings. The Men’s team came in at fifth and tied with reigning NEHC tournament champs Babson; and although they have depth with 22 returning players, they lose their top three scorers. However, much of that can be made up with senior goaltender Sam Best, who’s 12–4–4 record and 2.40 GAA proved he was an extremely valuable and reliable asset to the team (3).

The Women’s team ranks higher at fourth, and are in a great position to prove why they should be ranked higher, with three of their top four scorers returning to the ice. One of those scorers is sophomore Katie Wilbert, who hopes to build off of her great season last year that awarded her an all-rookie team selection. The Beacons will also see senior Addie Budington return on defense, where she hopes to shine as a top player in the league. Returning goaltender Victoria Kennedy will play a huge role in the teams success, as she hopes to improve on her incredible 2021 season where she posted an outstanding .926 save percentage in 25 games (4).

It’s no question that both the men’s and women’s hockey teams are contenders for the NEHC championship with the way they played last season and the position they’re in now. One of the bigger concerns for the men’s team will be losing their top three scorers, but other players will step up and fill those roles adequately, knowing the depth and experience they have at the collegiate level. For the women’s team, their 2021 program turnaround gives them the motivation they need to make it deeper into the tournament, as they hope to improve on last season’s campaign that saw them make the tourney for the first time in five years. Overall, it looks like the sky’s the limit for the Beacons, and the only reason to look down would be to wave to the competition.

  1. 2021-22 Men’s Ice Hockey Schedule – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  2. 2021-22 Women’s Ice Hockey Schedule – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  3. Men’s Ice Hockey Comes In Tied For Fifth in NEHC Preseason Poll – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

  4. Women’s Hockey Picked Fourth On NEHC Preseason Poll – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Hunter Berry, Photographer