Josh Lopina scores season-high three points in win over Providence

Lopina scores two first period goals to give the Minutemen an early lead

Dylan+Nguyen%2F+Daily+Collegian

Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

As Josh Lopina skated around the ice for the Massachusetts hockey team, he took full control of the puck early into the first period of the game. With one quick wrist shot from the top of the right circle, Lopina gave the Minutemen (20-12-2, 14-8-2 Hockey East) a 1-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.

“[Lopina] usually scores within six feet in front of the net,” line mate Bobby Trivigno said. “Me and [Wait] just tried to take the goalies eyes and he put it on net, and it went in. I mean, game plan executed right there.”

A few minutes later, when UMass was put on a power play due to a hooking call on the Friars (22-14-2, 12-11-1 HEA), Lopina took the ice on the special team’s unit, as he has been an important part to the unit throughout the season. When Scott Morrow shot the puck hard on net, Lopina redirected it into the back of the net, past goaltender Jaxson Stauber.

“The second goal is a set play that we work on,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “It was a nice play by [Morrow, good execution on that. We get one powerplay in the game and we execute it really well.”

His second goal of the game came in typical Lopina fashion, with him throwing his body in front of the crease while his line mates shot the puck towards the net.

Lopina can be used on both the penalty kill and power play unit as he can use his hands and offensive mind on the power play and his big body on the penalty kill. He also adds a lot of face-off wins on special teams, making his role even more important.

The forward not only uses his defense on the penalty kill, but on all areas of the ice. While in front Providence goaltender Stauber, Lopina pushed a Friars player down to eliminate the chance of the player blocking a shot, while also allowing space for his teammates to take a shot on net. Then in a very physical shift from the first line towards the end of the second period, Lopina used his body to keep the Friars offense in the neutral zone before going to make a line change.

Lopina can also use his stick to break up important plays for Providence. Early in the game he swatted away a puck from a Friars player to keep Providence from having a 2-on-1 chance against UMass goaltender Matt Murray.

Lopina ended the night with a total of three points on an assist from Trivigno’s goal, the most points he has had in a game this season. Saturday was also the first multi goal game of the season for the forward.

An area where both Lopina and his teammates pride themselves in is his faceoffs. Any time players are asked about Lopina they can always talk about how they know Lopina will be able to help them out in the faceoff dot.  He finished the night with 16 faceoff wins and 15 losses, taking nearly every important draw down the stretch.

“Ever since he got back from his injury he’s been lights out,” Trivigno said. “Not just points wise, but he’s been doing a really good job being detailed and what we call ‘hard above’ and he’s a really good all-around player. I honestly love playing with him and I don’t know if I’m ever going to have as good of a center as I do in him. He’s just a great teammate, great player, great friend, and great all-around player. I love [Lopina].”

Lopina and the Minutemen will take on UMass Lowell at the TD Garden on Friday, March 18. puck drop will be at 7:30 p.m.

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