Filip Lindberg flashes brilliance in second-straight game

The junior let up on goal on the weekend

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Noah Bortle, Sports Editor

“Good decision wasn’t it,” said an animated Greg Carvel to the media on Friday night.

While his Massachusetts hockey team had just lost in a shootout to Providence after a 0-0 tie, Carvel was talking about the goaltender he had decided to start who went 65 minutes and three shootout rounds without allowing a goal.

The surprise was that the player in UMass’ (9-5-3, 9-5-3 Hockey East) net was Filip Lindberg.

After two seasons of splitting the Minutemen net, it looked as if Matt Murray had finally earned himself consistent playing time between the pipes—something Carvel wanted one if his goaltenders to do heading into the season—but it was Lindberg who stole the show this weekend.

“I thought Filip was outstanding,” Carvel said on Saturday. “That’s as good of goaltending in two games that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

On Friday afternoon, with UMass unable to score, spending much of the first two periods defending, Lindberg kept his team in the game. The junior stopped all 27 shots he faced, not including the three he saved in the shootout.

It was much of the same on Saturday, with Lindberg doing everything he could to keep his team in the game, but again having it go the distance to a shootout—this time coming out on the winning end after stopping all five shootout attempts.

Lindberg was tested early, seeing 10 shots in the first frame alone. The Finland native met the challenge, however, saving all 10 Providence (5-5-4, 5-5-4 HEA) shots.

When Lindberg did finally slip up in the second period—after over 95 minutes of shutout hockey on the weekend—it came as a result of an awkward deflection of the chest of his own defenseman Zac Jones.

When UMass answered just under three minutes later, it looked to its netminder to make sure the momentum didn’t flip back in favor of the Friars.

Off the faceoff, Providence completed a stretch pass coming into the zone that left Lindberg 1-on-1 in the back end. Trying to keep the score intact, Lindberg parried the puck away. The stop would prove invaluable as the 1-1 score line held through regulation.

Lindberg wasn’t done in regulation. Playing his second straight overtime period, Lindberg found himself in a sticky situation when Colin Felix lost the puck—and his stick—below the net. After a pass to the low slot, Lindberg stared down a potential game-winning goal. With the puck seeming destined for the top right corner, the UMass netminder stopped it with his glove, extending the contest.

Lindberg’s impressive weekend saw him make 52 saves with a save percentage of .981—allowing just the one goal—and shut down the Friars in shootouts, stopping eight of the nine 1-on-1 chances.

“Both the goalies this year have stepped up,” Carvel said of the tandem of Murray and Lindberg, “But tonight was at another level. He looked really solid all weekend. He looked like he was in control, very comfortable and we need that. That’s such a huge asset to have such strong goaltending.”

While it remains to be seen if Lindberg will stick in net for the Minutemen, he certainly did enough to warrant consideration with his performances against Providence.

“If we get goaltending like that every night, that’ll be a huge factor,” Carvel said.

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @noah_bortle.