UMass sweeps Rensselaer to open 2018-19 campaign

Mitchell Chaffee’s two goals lead Minutemen to 3-1 victory Saturday


(Caroline O’Connor/UMass Athletics)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

The sweep is complete.

Mitchell Chaffee scored two goals and Fille Lindberg made 20 saves in his first collegiate start in net to power the Massachusetts hockey team to a 3-1 win past Rensselaer Saturday night at the Houston Field House.

UMass’ (2-0-0) sweep of the Engineers (0-2-0) marked the first time since the 2015-16 season that the Minutemen started the year with consecutive wins.

“Like last night, I felt as the game went on our skating and our legs seemed to be in even better condition than RPI,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “The third period was real solid. I thought we really neutralized them and then that was a huge goal at the end before they could get the goalie out.”

The Engineers called a timeout late in the third period and seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Chaffee scored his second of the night at 18:24 to seal the win for the Minutemen.

“It was on the half-wall there and I was just kind of battling,” Chaffee said about his insurance tally. “I saw [the puck] go back down and I knew I could beat their guy to the puck so I just kind of beat him and took it to the net and it kind of popped out again.”

It was in the second period where UMass took it to RPI, garnering chance after chance, which led to Chaffee’s first strike.

“Just keeping it simple,” Chaffee said on his success Saturday. “Their rink is definitely smaller than ours so you got to play, you got to adjust and play a little bit different. I thought tonight we played a lot better, even though the score didn’t really show it.”

“He’s a big heavy guy, he’s hard to contain,” Carvel added about No. 21. “That first goal, we work on that, coming up the wall and coming off and having a net presence and he’s got that heavy shot. Then the last goal, he was just the guy to decide that he wanted to stop in front of the net, the other two guys skated by.”

Bobby Trivigno cashed in two assists to tie Chaffee for most points on the night.

Anthony Del Gaizo ripped his first career goal just seconds after a RPI penalty expired in the first period, giving the Minutemen another early advantage. Colin Felix earned the assist for his first collegiate point.

The Engineers tied the score at 1-1 off a Jakub Lacka deflection at 11:03, while on the man-advantage.

UMass struggled managing the puck early on, leading to easy RPI zone entries.

The Minutemen came out guns blazing in the second period, trapping the Engineers in its own end for the first three minutes or so. At the 5:07 mark, Chaffee wristed his second goal in as many games on a long shot from the high slot, making it 2-1 UMass.

Carvel said he felt his team got back to playing more “north-south hockey” in the middle frame that resulted in more puck possession.

The third period was more back-and-forth with RPI giving it their all to knot the score.

With the clock winding down in regulation however, Chaffee won a battle in the corner and snapped a shot that was stopped by Marshall, but the rebound was hot and Chaffee stayed with it, tucking a backhander past Marshall, upping the score to 3-1.

Unlike the season-opener, UMass went 0-for-3 on the power play and Carvel noted the poise from his guys just wasn’t there.

The Minutemen finished with a 32-21 shot advantage as well.

“It’s huge,” said Chaffee about getting the first road win of the season out of the way. “It’s big, especially going into playing the No. 1 team in the country [Ohio State] next weekend.

“I’m very happy, that’s a very good road win,” Carvel said. “There’s no easy road wins. RPI played well, they played hard.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.