Massachusetts rose to the top of both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls for the first time in program history after sweeping Vermont to retain first place in Hockey East and match its 17-win total from all of last season.
Last weekend’s 4-1 and 5-1 wins gave the Minutemen a one-point advantage over Northeastern for the No. 1 slot in the league standings in advance of a home-and-home series between the teams that will be played Friday in Amherst and Saturday in Boston. However, Boston College can at least temporarily tie UMass with a Wednesday night win over Maine.
Sophomore defenseman Cale Makar factored into four of the five Minutemen goals in Saturday’s 5-1 victory, scoring two and adding two assists. Makar earned his third Hockey East honor of the season (Defensive Player of the Week) and the team’s ninth for the effort.
“He looked like a Hobey Baker (caliber player) to me,” Minutemen head coach Greg Carvel said of Makar following a four-point Saturday. The Avalanche prospect from Calgary, Alberta, leads all Hockey East defensemen with a 8-16-24 line through 20 games after logging 21 points during his 34-game rookie campaign.