Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Defensive efforts from Aaron Bohlinger and Colin Felix guide UMass to a win

Felix ended the night with three blocks and Bohlinger added another
Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

BOSTON – The partnership between Colin Felix and Aaron Bohlinger was on full display in Friday night’s Hockey East semifinal win over UMass Lowell.

“I think we’ve really meshed,” Bohlinger said of his pairing with Felix. “He’s an animal on the ice, he’s so reliable and we just read off each other really well, we communicate a lot. He makes my life easy, and I hope I do the same for him.”

In the second period, a pile of players fled to the front of the River Hawks (21-10-3, 15-8-1 Hockey East) net and the puck got lost in the mess of bodies. When it reappeared, it was on the stick of a UMass Lowell forward, with only Colin Felix standing in his way of the goal. Instead of charging forward, he dropped the puck back finding a fellow teammate, and it was the efforts of Felix, who scrambled back, getting his stick on the shot, and sending it away from any danger.

After a big hit from Felix, he came back to the bench with a large cut on his face but refused to stop playing. In the postgame press conference, Carvel admitted that Felix had also broken his finger a few weeks before and said that players like that are unique because the injury was not apparent on the ice.

“That’s why you win; kids like that,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “[Felix] has been an absolute warrior for us. He has been for four years.”

Later in the period, Felix was sent to the box for holding following a goal from UMass Lowell’s Matt Crasa and put the River Hawk’s in danger of tying the game up, but his teammates were able to successfully kill the penalty.

Felix and Bohlinger’s ability to help one another, communicating on the ice and knowing the right decision to make, shined for the Minutemen (21-10-3, 14-8-2 HEA). With UMass looking to hold the lead in the third period, the two defensemen provided support, helping clear the puck away from danger multiple times.

UMass had early defensive struggles, with UMass Lowell dominating chances and possession in the opening minutes, however the River Hawks were unable to capitalize due to vital mistakes that allowed the Minutemen to clear it out of the zone. However, for the remainder of the period, the defense remained solid, with Bohlinger denying a potential breakaway opportunity, and allowing UMass to get a two-goal lead.

“I love playing with [Bohlinger],” Felix said. “Obviously he has his offensive talents, and honestly his defensive game has come along since I’ve started playing over here. So, I think we feed off each other well.”

In a warmer arena, with a smaller sheet of ice than they are used to, Carvel explained that it leads to the puck bouncing around and makes it hard to control, which can be frustrating for the players. However, Bohlinger did not allow it to affect him.

“I though [Bohlinger] was outstanding,” Carvel said. “I thought [Bohlinger] was one of the few guys on the team that had poise with the puck. He held onto it. He skated with it. He broke pucks out himself.”

Bohlinger, Felix and the rest of the Minutemen will take the ice once again at TD Garden for the Hockey East finals for a 7 p.m. puck drop on Saturday.

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

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