Impact of the first line felt in UMass’ win over Merrimack

Garrett Wait moved from the third line to the first

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Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

As Merrimack’s Steven Jandric tapped in a goal six minutes into the first period with the Massachusetts hockey team’s top forward line skating behind him, it was proven that UMass’ veteran unit was not up to its typical standard in the first period.

The Minutemen’s (4-2, 2-0 Hockey East) first line went without a key player, forward Josh Lopina against the Warriors (3-5, 1-4 HEA) on Saturday night. Without Lopina, head coach Greg Carvel was faced with changing up the first line, a line that he thought would not have to change early on into the season.

Lopina has made a huge difference for the Minutemen as the player to go to in faceoff situations. Lopina has also been an offensive upside for the Minutemen this season. He has three goals and two assists in the first five games for UMass.

“[Lopina] is a very good player. When I’m in the faceoffs, I know he’s going to win like almost every time. He’s an unreal faceoff man, great two-way player,” Bobby Trivigno said. “[Del Gaizo] did a very good job in the faceoff and I think he’s a similar player in front of the net where he bangs home those rebounds, gets to the gritty areas.”

Carvel turned to his veteran player, Anthony Del Gaizo to replace Lopina and bumped Garrett Wait up from the third line back to his original spot on the first. Cam Donaldson was bumped down to the fourth line to make room for Wait.

Del Gaizo became the player to go into the faceoff circle instead of Lopina, and he finished with eight faceoff wins, but thirteen faceoffs lost. Though, Del Gaizo could not live up to the expectations that Lopina set, he was still able to be an impact player.

“The one thing I know about Anthony Del Gaizo is he always steps up and I give the kid a ton of character. He really embodies our identity,” Carvel said. “He’s not the prettiest skater, he’s not the best stick handler, but he finds a way to make a difference in the game.”

The second period was a change of pace for the Minutemen first line when Wait scored two of the three goals in that frame. Wait on his first goal squeezed the puck by Warriors’ goalie, Zachary Borgiel four minutes into the period. Then, just twelve minutes after his first goal Wait did it again to give the Minutemen a new game.

Captain Bobby Trivigno took three penalties in the series against the Warriors, with two of them being on Saturday night. Trivigno had taken no penalties this season until faced with Merrimack. Despite his time in the box, he finished with two assists on both of Wait’s goals. The duo’s connection that dates all the way back to their time in the USHL returned to last season’s form, with Trivigno constantly searching for Waitin front of the net.

The top line relied on physicality to generate its offense and send a message to the Warrior players on the bench across from them.

“It was fun. I think both teams took a beating. We got a lot of ice bags that will be used on the way back, and I’m sure they do too,” Merrimack coach Scott Borek said. “The best part of the series was that it was really clean. We could have played the game without refs, both nights.”

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @kaygregoire.