UMass defeats Providence 4-2 and advances to Hockey East semifinals

Minutemen’s top line records three goals in the win

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts hockey team defeated Providence 4-2 in Saturday’s Hockey East quarterfinals matchup. With the win, the Minutemen (20-12-2, 14-8-2 Hockey East) will advance to their third consecutive HEA semifinals.

“I think the first thing I think is that it’s very similar to the first time we went to the National Championship game,” head coach Greg Carvel said about playing on the TD Garden’s ice sheet. “We didn’t know what to expect and we looked like it. And the first time we went to Boston Garden, we weren’t ready for it, and we learned valuable lessons.”

In the second period of the game, Josh Lopina entered the offensive zone and sent the puck across the middle of the ice, finding the stick of Bobby Trivigno on the left side. The captain charged towards the net and fired off a shot that got passed the hands of Jaxson Stauber, finding the twine in the back of the net. This was the winning goal for UMass and was just one of three goals scored by the top line.

“They are as good a line as there is in Hockey East,” Carvel said. “They’re our best line by a mile and when we need them to go, unfortunately we need them every night. It’d be nice if we didn’t need them, but we do, and they usually come through every night. They did tonight.”

The offensive efforts did not cease for the Minutemen in the second period despite a large shot differential against them. A few minutes later, Scott Morrow sent a long pass from the defensive zone, catching the Friars (22-13-2, 12-11-1 HEA) in a line change and allowing Eric Faith to skate into the offensive zone wide open. Faith drove towards the net, but was saved by Stauber, which was just one of the 15 saves he had on the night.

Odd-man rushes have been a problem for the Minutemen defense this season, but they cleaned up that aspect of the game on Saturday. After giving up a 2-on-1 in the first period that was stopped by Matt Murray, UMass stayed above for the remainder of the contest.

“We addressed it all week,” Carvel said. “We worked and talked about it all week about just a mindset. We were crossing aggressive and getting into reckless in too many areas.”

The Friars were only able to slip two shots past Murray on the night. Their first goal came in the second period after Max Crozier took the shot and it was tipped by Riley Duran. Murray was screened on the play and had no chance to save the shot. Later in the game, following an empty net goal by Cal Kiefiuk, Providence was able to get one back, with Kohen Olischefski recording the goal.

Saturday’s matchup was physical for all 60 minutes, and Providence’s Parker Ford was called for the first penalty of the night. UMass capitalized on that power play chance when Morrow aimed a shot at Lopina’s stick and connected with it, allowing the center to score a redirect goal. Lopina was also responsible for the Minutemen’s first goal of the night after he took a shot from the high slot.

A few minutes after Lopina’s second goal, Anthony Del Gaizo was called for a roughing penalty after a massive hit in the neutral zone against the Friar’s Jamie Engelbert. The play was reviewed, but the call remained a minor penalty, leading to a visibily upset Providence head coach Nate Leaman. Engelbert remained down and was eventually helped off by a trainer. He did not return to the game.

“That’s up for the other people,” Leaman said when asked about his thoughts on the call. “In some ways I think [Engelbert] kind of put himself in an awkward spot, but I think it could have gone either way.”

UMass was able to successfully kill off Del Gaizo’s penalty along with the two other penalties it faced in the game, finishing off its special team’s performance 1-1 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

UMass will now look ahead to its semifinal matchup against UMass Lowell at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 18.

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