UMass didn’t let poor performance against Maine show itself in playoff win over Northeastern

The Minutemen overcame a rough second period Sunday by scoring two goals

Collegian+Staff

Jon Asgeirsson

Collegian Staff

By Evan Marinofsky, Assistant Sports Editor

It looked to be happening again.

The Massachusetts hockey team led by two goals over Northeastern entering the second period and dominated all aspects of the first 20 minutes of Sunday’s Hockey East quarterfinal game.

Then the second frame of play came and Northeastern applied pressure that was nowhere to be found in the first period. The Huskies ended up outshooting UMass, 11-8, in the second period. They even snuck a soft one through Filip Lindberg to cut the UMass lead to 2-1. The Minutemen were clearly on the ropes and the tying goal felt inevitable.

“[Northeastern] had a really good push at the beginning of the second period,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said postgame via Zoom. “I thought the first half of the second period they were playing well. We were running around in our own zone and that’s how they scored.”

So, why did this look familiar?

In the final game of the regular season, UMass led Maine, 3-1, entering the third and proceeded to lose that lead after a teamwide let-down. It was the main focus of head coach Greg Carvel’s postgame chat, souring the luster of senior night.

Carvel even talked at length about the blown lead in his weekly press conference entering Sunday’s quarterfinal matchup against the Huskies.

But with UMass’ backs up against the wall, Bobby Trivigno swayed the momentum back to the flagship’s side by getting Connor Murphy to open up his legs ever so slightly and shoveling one into the back of the net to put the Minutemen back up 3-1.

“That’s what I expected,” Carvel said of his team’s resiliency after Sunday’s win. “The Maine game was a kind of style that coming in, no matter what we tried to do after a big win against BC, those things happen. This is playoff hockey.”

The Huskies still could’ve staged a third period comeback, but due to the way in which the Minutemen stood strong on defense, Northeastern never really stood a chance.

“Shots weren’t high, scoring chances weren’t high,” Carvel said of the game. “But we were opportunistic and scored some nice goals. But I thought we defended very well tonight.”

The Minutemen were most opportunistic in protecting their 3-1 lead when senior Phil Lagunov won a puck battle and then stuffed a shot past Murphy just seconds later to make it 4-1 UMass.

Even though the Minutemen looked to be falling into the same playing style of their previous game during the second period, in the first period, they used their early momentum to distance themselves from the lackluster effort against Maine.

First it was Garrett Wait. Then it was Zac Jones. Both lamplighters assisted by assistant captain Bobby Trivigno.

Less than 10 minutes into the game and UMass already led 2-0.

“Scoring first was big,” Carvel said. “It was big for our group because it kind of put the Maine game behind us. We came out, set the tone, got a goal early. I think that was good for our mojo to know that we showed up to play tonight.”

The Minutemen will look to build off their solid performance when they face Providence in the Hockey East semifinal on Wednesday night.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected] He can be followed on Twitter @emarinofsky.