UMass beats LIU 6-3 in non-conference matchup

Bobby Trivigno tallies five points for the Minutemen

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

Bobby Trivigno’s five-point night led the Massachusetts hockey team to a 6-3 victory over Long Island University on Friday night.

Trivigno tallied an assist on each of No. 10 UMass’ (14-8-2, 10-4-2 Hockey East) first four goals of the game and generated offense all night long. He topped off his historic night with an empty-net goal after putting a slick move on a Sharks (8-15-3) defender at center ice.

“I thought he was flying, I thought his speed was at another level,” head coach Greg Carvel said of his captain. “He’s feeling good, you can tell he’s got some confidence, but his skating, he’s just really moving faster than anybody else and that’s to me what I think makes him really hard to defend.”

Josh Lopina showcased his face off skills on Friday, winning 16-20 draws against LIU. Since returning to the lineup after the winter break Lopina has been the most consistent center for the Minutemen and has been adding scoring as well. The sophomore added a goal and an assist to go along with his 80 percent face off win rate.

“It helps when you win the draw to get possession,” Carvel said of Lopina’s performance. “He’s probably one of the better guys in our league. He’s a powerful, strong kid and that’s his identity. That’s what makes him a very strong player for us, he does those things and he got rewarded tonight.”

Lucas Mercuri and Eric Faith added positively at the face off dot as well, each attaining a win rate higher than 70 percent. Lopina noted that competition in practice helps sharpen every center’s skill, and that was displayed against the Sharks.

“We all root for each other,” Lopina said. “Watching them during the game I can learn from them too if they’re hot on the draw so always learning, always watching and always cheering on our own guys.”

Garrett Wait rounded out a high-scoring night for UMass’ top line, scoring a goal and adding an assist. The trio of Wait, Lopina and Trivigno combined for nine points. The Minutemen’s top defensive pairing got in on the action as well; both Matthew Kessel and Ryan Ufko registered goals, taking accurate shots to beat LIU goaltender Vinnie Purpura. Despite the top heavy scoring, Cal Kiefiuk was able to generate a third period goal that was assisted by his second-unit line mates Anthony Del Gaizo and Reed Lebster.

UMass’ power play unit controlled the flow of the game every time it stepped on the ice. The Minutemen scored twice on the man advantage against LIU and had a litany of quality chances including a shot by Scott Morrow that rung off the post.

“Two goals and one power play we had the puck in the zone for two minutes straight … I thought they did a pretty good job,” Carvel said. “LIU was pretty passive, so it made it easy to retrieve pucks but two goals [on the power play] is pretty good, we’ll take that any night.”

Matt Murray and a few defensive breakdowns were the only down parts of Friday night’s game for UMass. The Sharks finished the game with only 13 shots on goal compared to the Minutemen’s 34, but Murray let three goals past him to keep LIU within reach during an otherwise lopsided contest. Limiting the Sharks’ scoring will be one of the key points of emphasis for Carvel and UMass heading into Saturday’s matchup.

“You have to be hard … all the time,” Carvel said. “They scored two goals off rushes that started in their zone where we weren’t hard above and they just flooded right through the ice, puck right to the net. It shouldn’t be that easy and that was the part of the game I wasn’t happy about; 13 shots shouldn’t be three goals in the back of the net.”

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.