UMass advances to Hockey East championship with win over UMass Lowell

The Minutemen head to their second straight Hockey East title game

Dylan+Nguyen%2F+Daily+Collegian

Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

BOSTON — The Massachusetts hockey team did not allow the bright lights of TD Garden blind them from achieving its’ goal of heading to the Hockey East championship, defeating UMass Lowell 3-1 on Friday night.

The first frame started like any normal game for the Minutemen (21-12-2, 14-9-2 HEA), with Josh Lopina winning the opening faceoff of the game. It also started in the typical way with the first line being the first to add to the score sheet.

When the River hawks (21-10-3, 12-4-3 HEA) were whistled for a penalty, UMass used this to its advantage to get an early lead. Scott Morrow passed the puck to Lopina, and he tried to get the puck on net, but came up empty. As the puck bounced in the air from Lopina’s shot, Garrett Wait lifted his stick up and hit the puck into the net to give the Minutemen a 1-0 lead.

Not long after Wait’s goal, Bobby Trivigno caught the puck from the blue line and stick handled the puck along the offensive zone. From the right side of the goal Trivigno threw the puck on the net to give UMass a comfortable 2-0 lead heading into the second period.

Even with goals being scored, the Minutemen were making mistakes that the River hawks were able to capitalize on, but those errors were evident for both teams. On the offensive side, Trivigno bounced a puck off the boards that was intended for Lopina, but a Lowell player caught the pass to get on a breakaway that Matt Murray was able to stop.  Even Murray wasn’t immune to making mistakes, sometimes not being able to read the puck correctly on weird bounces.

The mistakes seemed to plague the River Hawks the most in the end, especially in the last ten minutes of the game. Jerry Harding skated down the ice and shot the puck on the Lowell goaltender, but the puck bounced back onto the ice. As a River hawks player handled the puck, he went to pass it to Savory’s pad, but instead pushed the puck right past his goaltender and into the back of the net. Harding was credited with the goal despite having not been the player to finish off the play for his first goal of the season.

“Don’t kid yourself if you don’t think I’m going to tell [Harding] he scored one goal this year. He didn’t score,” UMass coach Greg Carvel joked when asked about Harding’s goal.

The River Hawks were able to capitalize on defensive struggles in the second period, particularly on Matt Crasa’s goal to cut UMass’ lead in half. The Minutemen tried to challenge for goalie interference, but the video came back inconclusive to confirm the UML goal.

Despite a few mistakes though, UMass played tight in front of its own net and limited offensive opportunities for the River Hawks.

“I feel like we did a really good job defensively,” Trivigno said. “I don’t know if [Lowell] had a ton of grade A chances. I felt like we kept a lot of things to the outside, did a really good job collapsing, especially when the puck was low in our zone…. It was a good team effort.”

Despite not showing up on the score sheet, the Minutemen’s second line was still making their presence known on Friday. Reed Lebster had a big block early on to keep the puck off of his goaltender. Anthony Del Gaizo is also not afraid to use his body in games, either, making plays in the defensive zone to keep the River hawks away from the net. Cal Kiefiuk added multiple shots on River hawks goaltender, but all his attempts were turned away. The line totaled for nine shots, with five being on goal.

Murray continued what he started in the Quarterfinals and had a solid night in net. The goaltender stopped 22 shots. With a close 2-1 game, Trivigno was tripped up by a River hawks player, giving the puck to a lone Lowell player in front of Murray. Murray blocked away the shot to keep a UMass lead. Murray didn’t need to make as many saves as his quarterfinal effort, but he stood tall through tough moments on Friday.

“Treat every game like its’ own game,” Murray said about not facing as many shots as his previous game. “Focusing on the task at hand and if you have to make the save, make the save regardless of if it’s one shot or 40 shots.”

The Minutemen will play the University of Connecticut on Saturday, March 19 to battle for the Hockey East Championship. Puck drop will be at 7:00 p.m.

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