Anthony Del Gaizo a difference maker in Friday’s tie against UMass Lowell

The senior’s two goal night helps send the game to overtime

Nina+Walat%2F+Daily+Collegian

Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

LOWELL — Anthony Del Gaizo stepped onto the ice in Friday’s rivalry matchup against UMass Lowell prepared to battle. Del Gaizo lead the Massachusetts’s hockey team by scoring the equalizing goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, sending the game to overtime.

The tying goal was indicative of Del Gaizo’s play style all night and all season long: gritty. The senior didn’t need a flashy move; he put his body in front of the net and fought for a loose puck, eventually guiding it between the pipes.

“He’s our best player,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “All he’s done since he’s been at UMass is step up when we need him to. And he was outstanding tonight. Just the difference in the game.”

In the second period, two crushing penalty calls left UMass (7-4-2, 5-2-2 Hockey East) without captain Bobby Trivigno and Lucas Mercuri, with the River Hawks (8-2-3, 6-1-1 HEA) able to capitalize, scoring two goals and gaining the lead for the first time during the game. Going into the third, the Minutemen were down by one and it was Del Gaizo who answered the call and scored the first of what would be two vital goals.

Reed Lebster stood at the blue line, quickly sending the puck to Ryan Ufko who took a shot. It was Del Gaizo who got a stick on the shot, getting it past the multitude of defenders in front of the net and goaltender Owen Savory.

“He played with a lot of integrity,” Trivigno said. “Really good leadership from him. If you watch his play, he just outworks everyone, blocks shots, literally everything, faceoffs. Just will. He’s a really good player. He led us tonight for sure.”

Coming into Friday’s game, Del Gaizo emphasized that he needed to score more, and his hunger shined on the ice. In overtime, Del Gaizo took a shot, but it bounced off the pads of Savory and was cleared away. This was his only opportunity that did not find the back of the net, finishing the game with three shots, all on goal.

With Lopina still out with an injury, the Minutemen have been searching for a player to step up in the face-off role, and Del Gaizo has been one member to do so. Friday night was not his best performance at the dot, but he still finished just under 50 percent, winning 12 of his 25 draws.

Combining the loss of Lopina with other key injuries like Cal Kiefiuk and Garrett Wait, it has been up to the returning players to step up, leading the team and showing the younger members UMass’ style. Del Gaizo has been vital, having played a few minutes  on the first line, but truly being a staple at center on the second line.

“He’s easily our most valuable player since all the injuries,” Carvel said. “I wish I had a lot more kids like him.”

Before Friday, Del Gaizo had only one goal on the season, which he recorded on Oct. 15 against American International, but struggled since then. On Friday he found what was missing in his game throughout the first half of the season, recording two goals.

Effort has never been a problem for the senior, who’s point total for the season does not reflect his impact to UMass. As the Minutemen get deeper into conference play, the games will continue to be competitive and UMass will have to fight for every win, with Del Gaizo being at the forefront.

Del Gaizo and the Minutemen return to the Mullins Center at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night to finish off the series against UMass Lowell.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @SophieeWellerr.