Massachusetts Daily Collegian

No. 9 UMass defeats No. 4 Providence, 3-2, in pivotal Hockey East sweep

Anthony Del Gaizo nets game-winner with 1:49 to play in regulation

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No. 9 UMass defeats No. 4 Providence, 3-2, in pivotal Hockey East sweep

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

(Caroline O'Connor/UMass Athletics)

By Liam Flaherty, Collegian Staff

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PROVIDENCE, R.I.–The Massachusetts hockey team would not give up on Saturday at Schneider Arena, and, in very similar fashion to Thursday, defeated Providence, 3-2 on a game-winner with overtime looming.

After amassing a two-goal lead over the No. 4 Friars (5-3-1, 2-2-0 Hockey East Association) in the first period again, No. 9 UMass (8-1-0, 5-0-0 HEA) withstood a tough Providence comeback.

Tied at two with under two minutes to go in the third, Colin Felix unleashed a wrister from the point, which Anthony Del Gaizo tipped in past Hayden Hawkey to secure the sweep.

“My first two years I was talking a lot about how proud I was of my team’s effort, but we couldn’t find ways to win,” Carvel said. “But this year, time and again, they’re finding ways to win games and that’s quite a character builder. This is a very tough building to play in and a very tough building to win in, so we’ll take these points and scoot out of here as quick as we can.”

Joining the Minutemen coming off being named the Most Valuable Player of the United States Hockey League, Anthony Del Gaizo only scored once in eight games prior to Saturday night.

With minimal luck to start his collegiate career, the freshman was ecstatic to get on the board.

“I got a chance and I put it in,” the forward said. “I think we have a tremendous team. We’re so deep and you know it’s just nice to be able to contribute. Good things always happen when you go to the net. You’ve heard it a thousand times and you saw it here tonight, so it’s awesome.”

Much as it did during the first period of Thursday’s opening matchup against the Friars at Mullins, UMass jumped out to a hot start, before Providence stormed back into contention.

Just over three minutes into the action on the power play, Bobby Trivigno made a spectacular defensive play and took the puck, before slinging it to Philip Lagunov, who beat Hawkey top shelf for a 1-0 edge.

“Scoring that first goal is just such a big factor,” Carvel said after UMass secured its fifth-straight win. “It is at every level of hockey and both nights we scored an early power play goal.”

At the end of the frame, the Minutemen struck again. This time, they were on the penalty kill.

Down a man, Brett Boeing hustled down the ice after the puck was cleared and took it away from Hawkey behind the Providence net. He slammed it home and doubled the early advantage.

“Brett is just one of those kids that has found his confidence,” Carvel said. “But we, along with the special teams and goaltending, needed a couple guys to mature and be better players. He was one of them and he’s been outstanding for us and a very big factor in a lot of our bigger wins.”

The Friars would not go away quietly, however, and they got one back just six minutes into the second period. Six minutes later, Greg Printz knotted the action at two entering the third period.

Towards the end of the second and throughout a majority of the third, UMass goaltender Matt Murray was phenomenal and played a monumental role in leading the Minutemen to the sweep.

“It was simple, make the save, make the save, make the save,” Murray said of his mindset late in the game. “I noticed after that second goal, coming into the third period, they were shooting a lot more to the blocker side. Noticing that helped me make a couple of extra saves, making an early read on that blocker, but other than that it was just make the save, make the save.”

Carvel said this was a statement weekend for Murray.

“We’ve gone back and forth with the two goalies all year,” Carvel said. “We figured that we weren’t going to lock one for a while, but just what we’ve seen from Murray here, it was a no brainer to come back with him. Boy, he made a lot of big saves, especially down the stretch.”

After Murray ensured the game stayed tied at two, UMass found its chance to go for the sweep.

Holding the puck in the Friars’ defensive zone, Felix threw a shot from the blue line towards a scrum of Maroon-and-White in front of Hawkey, where big Anthony Del Gaizo was waiting.

With time ticking down, the freshman stuck out his stick and tipped the shot past Hawkey in net.

With the sweep over the high-powered Friars, UMass made a statement. But, even with a handful of impressive wins under their belt this season, the Minutemen are already focused on the future.

“That’s what everybody said after we beat Ohio State, and that’s what they said after we beat New Hampshire for the first time in 12 years, and now here,” Carvel said. “We’ve made a couple of statements, but it’s in the rearview mirror now. There’s a lot of season to go here, so we can’t hang our hat on anything, but these are two huge wins.”

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.

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