Filip Lindberg ready to go if called upon in Hockey East semifinal

Freshman performed admirably in quarterfinal series win vs New Hampshire

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Filip Lindberg ready to go if called upon in Hockey East semifinal

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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As of Tuesday afternoon, it’s undecided who the Massachusetts hockey team will start in goal for its Hockey East semifinal matchup against Boston College at the TD Garden on Friday.

Coach Greg Carvel didn’t reveal much at Tuesday’s media availability session on which of the two will go.

Matt Murray started the quarterfinal series against New Hampshire but only lasted 32 minutes before being pulled in favor of Filip Lindberg. The freshman stepped in and made 13 saves in Game 1 which was good enough to earn him the start in Game 2. Lindberg followed it up with an 18-save shutout in the 6-0 win for No. 3 UMass (28-8-0).

Lindberg’s recent performance makes it reasonable to say that the Espoo, Finland native should be the go-to choice, however it was Murray who was between the pipes for the Minutemen in their first two meetings with the Eagles (13-21-3)—4-3 and 4-2-wins for UMass in mid-February.

It appears it will take some deliberation from the coaching staff before a final decision is made, but no matter who gets the call, Lindberg feels ready.

“When you get a chance to play you have to play well, show the team that you can take the spot and kind of move forward from that,” Lindberg said.

It’s been a bit an uneven season for the first-year netminder. For the first three weeks of the season, he split time with Murray in each of the first trio of two-game series’. Then he took a backseat for a couple of weeks before starting on Nov. 16 at Holy Cross.

A trip to the World Juniors sent No. 35 away from the team for multiple weeks and Murray continued to perform well while he was gone. When Lindberg returned, it was basically spot duty for No. 35 as he only started four more times in net the rest of the way.

Getting the nod in playoff hockey isn’t easy, especially after not seeing a ton of ice time before hand, but Lindberg feels the increased intensity that comes with playoff hockey raises everyone’s game.

“You know that you have to get the win, the win is the most important thing and you have to perform well, there’s no excuses,” Lindberg said. “There’s always a good atmosphere too. It’s exciting, it’s an exciting time and the adrenaline, it’s really cool so it definitely pushes you to play even better.”

“I love playoff hockey, of course,” Lindberg added. “I feel like everyone loves playoff hockey.”

UMass is the new kid in town compared to the three other teams headed to Boston this weekend. BC, Boston University and Northeastern have combined for 22 total Hockey East championships while the Minutemen will be fighting for their first this weekend.

Even though the perennial powers of Hockey East stand in UMass’ way, confidence is flowing freely throughout the Minutemen locker room.

“Oh yeah you can feel the confidence, we’re ready to go,” Lindberg said. “We’ve been practicing well and we have a really good atmosphere in the locker room and the boys are ready to go. [It’s] an exciting time right now. Playoff hockey is really cool so we’re definitely ready to go.”

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