UMass wins national championship 5-0 over St. Cloud State

Filip Lindberg shutout the Huskies in his return to the net


Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Collegian Staff

History made. For the first time ever, the Massachusetts hockey team captured a national championship, earning a spot atop the mountain with a 5-0 victory over St. Cloud State on Saturday night.

“Very happy for our kids, they earned this,” coach Greg Carvel said after the game. “It will be the best moment of their life.”

The story for UMass (20-5-4, 13-5-4 Hockey East) heading into its matchup with the Huskies (20-11, 15-9 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) was who would start in net between Matt Murray and Filip Lindberg.

It was Lindberg who ultimately stepped between the pipes, and that proved to be a good decision by Carvel and his coaching staff. The junior netminder turned away all 25 shots thrown at him on his way to a shutout at the most important time.

“The whole team played unreal, the guys in the D played well in front of me,” Lindberg said. “They saved my ass a couple times.”

Another crucial part of the Minutemen victory was playing within their team identity. All year long UMass has been propelled forward by its defense, special teams and utilization of its depth. And Saturday night was no different.

The Minutemen didn’t just blank the Huskies while on the penalty kill. They added a shorthanded goal as well courtesy of a highlight reel goal by Philip Lagunov that will likely play on repeat in Amherst for years to come.

“That move I brought over from the Pavel Datsyuk hockey school camp back home,” Lagunov said. “We talked a lot about five-hole goals and trying to spread the goalie open over the past few months, so in terms of actually putting it in that was put in at practice.”

And the power play saw a similar level of success as well, with UMass moving the puck smoothly and generating high danger scoring chances, culminated by a Matthew Kessel power play goal late in the second period.

“The special teams played a big role this weekend,” Carvel said. “We scored a power play goal each night which was a big factor… So I thought special teams were outstanding.”

Even outside of Lagunov’s goal, the Minutemen got a great deal of offense out of their depth against the Huskies. It started early when a pair of freshmen—Aaron Bohlinger and Ryan Sullivan—ran a 2-on-0 to perfection capped off by the first goal of Bohlinger’s career.

A few minutes after that, Reed Lebster added a goal of his own, allowing UMass to take a two-goal lead into the first intermission. The Minutemen’s first three goals came at the hands of players that combined for just four goals heading into the contest.

“Our depth is a huge reason why we made it to this game tonight, I’m so happy for those guys,” captain Jake Gaudet said. “I think that’s the difference between our team this year and our team two years ago is that we can roll four lines and be successful.”

It wasn’t until Kessel’s power play goal that UMass saw a more consistent scorer find the back of the net. And with the game well in hand, another familiar face lit a lamp of his own: Bobby Trivigno.

The Walter Brown award winner leads the Minutemen in points but had a quiet regional in Bridgeport. That changed when UMass arrived in Pittsburgh. On Thursday night Trivigno assisted Garrett Wait’s overtime goal, and on Saturday he eliminated any hopes of a St. Cloud State comeback. His performance earned him the NCAA Tournament’s most outstanding player.

“Bobby is a phenomenal player, he’s got a fire inside of him,” Gaudet said. “It was a 5-0 game with four minutes left and he’s blocking shots, I think that just says a lot about him.”

Trivigno said after winning the HEA Championship that this Minutemen team would go down in history. Well, he didn’t say exactly that, but UMass did exactly that.

When the final horn sounded, the Minutemen exploded out of their helmets and gloves and took to the ice in celebration of becoming the program’s first ever national champions.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m so happy for this group,” Trivigno said. “It was cool to take it in a little bit, look around and just cherish the moment.”

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.