It took the Massachusetts hockey team until the third period of Game 1 to find its offensive groove Friday night, but it was quite a different story the following night in Game 2.
The Minutemen unloaded a 6-0 knock-out performance against New Hampshire Saturday night inside the Mullins Center, completing the quarterfinal sweep to advance to the TD Garden next weekend for the semifinals of the Hockey East Tournament.
Senior Brett Boeing registered a third of UMass’ goals, recording tallies in the first and second periods. Jacob Pritchard and Cale Makar lead all skaters with three points each, both dishing out two assists and one goal each.
Just as the Wildcats boasted a hefty 3-0 margin well into the second period in Game 1, the Minutemen managed to build a 4-0 lead before the first intermission this time around.
“I was really happy with the way we played last night, and I thought we just continued it tonight at a different speed,” coach Greg Carvel said. “We’ve had a lot of milestones this year and it’s always great to win your last game on home ice but it’s really rewarding to be able to take your team to your league championship.
“I’ve done it before as a coach and it’s a really special time. I’m really excited to be able to experience this.”
On the first power play of the evening, Makar made sure to capitalize on the opportunity after the Minutemen worked the puck around the zone until Makar could one-time it past UNH netminder Mike Robinson at the 4:36 mark.
Just over two minutes later, Ty Farmer wristed a hard shot to the cage only for Jacob Pritchard to clean up the rebound as Robinson fell to the ice, leaving a wide open top-half of the goal for the senior transfer to double the score.
Boeing notched his seventh of the season on his aggressive play around the crease, managing to bat home a loose puck by the side of the goal to put UMass up 3-0 at the 12:45 mark.
“I think Brett Boeing and Jake McLaughlin are the two difference makers on our team, when they’re good we’re a really good hockey team,” Carvel said. “We have a lot of consistent, solid players, but when your third-line center and fifth defenseman become difference makers in the game, we become really dangerous.”
UMass continued to smother Robinson until it was a four-goal game, as Makar sent a rocket shot from the top of the zone before Bobby Trivigno could redirect it into the back of the net. Robinson was then promptly replaced by backup goaltender Ty Taylor.
Trivigno’s tally counted as the 18th goal the Minutemen put past Robinson in the 2018-19 season.
It took less than five minutes into the second for UMass to extend its lead to five, when Colin Felix got in on the long-shot game and wristed one from in front of the blue line for his first goal of his collegiate career.
The Minutemen capped off the scoring with Boeing’s second tally of the night, burying a loose puck after a deadly transition up ice. The senior was all over the place from puck drop and did a tremendous job of keeping the UMass pace up for the entire 60 minutes.
“Boe is a really critical piece to me, I believe that,” Carvel said. “I thought we got off to a great start this year because he played really well at the beginning of the year.”
“He was a fourth-line player here for two years” he added. “He forced us to make him a third-line center and he’s held that all year long.”
Carvel considered the series to be a statement for UMass. He was particularly impressed with how the team handled the extensive lead with class and respect.
Lindberg improved to 8-2-0 on the season, stopping all 18 shots he faced through 60 minutes Saturday night. The Wildcats only registered six shots per period in Game 2, but UMass held UNH to under 10 shots in every single period they played this weekend.
The Minutemen now wait to find out who they’ll face in the Hockey East semifinals next weekend at TD Garden in Boston. It’ll be the program’s first trip to the Garden since 2007.
“I’m really excited to be able to experience this,” Carvel said. “When we lost last year at Northeastern in the quarterfinals, as soon as that game was over the kids decided next year we’re making it there.
“And they’ve had that goal all year long and we’ll go into Boston this week with a plan to win the whole thing, we won’t just be happy to be there.”
Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MollieeWalkerr.