UMass defeats UConn in overtime to win second consecutive Hockey East championship

Aaron Bohlinger records game winning goal against the Huskies

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Thom Kendall/ UMass Athletics

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

BOSTON – Aaron Bohlinger fired a shot from the high slot and into the goal and the TD Garden erupted. That overtime tally awarded the Massachusetts hockey team with its second consecutive Hockey East Championship, defeating UConn 2-1. UMass (21-12-2, 14-8-2 Hockey East) got to hoist the Lamoriello Trophy once again.

“[Bohlinger] told me after the game that he only scores in championships,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “He’s found his game and he’s really effective player when he’s moving and controlling the game with the puck.”

Bohlinger has three career goals at UMass, two of which have been game winners in championship games.

In the second period after the Huskies (20-15-0, 14-10-0 HEA) gained an early lead, Bobby Trivigno received the puck in the neutral zone with not a single UConn defender standing in his way, and the captain did what he does best: put the puck in the back of the net. After a period of trials and turbulations, Trivigno’s goal tied the game up and put UMass in position to win.

“He’s the most unique kid I’ve ever coached because he never gets tired,” Carvel said. “He never has a bad attitude. He never gets ill-willed … he’s the hardest working kid.”

The pucks flew on both sides of the ice for the entirety of the third period, with UMass’ best opportunity coming with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. Bodies were flying with every Minutemen crowding the crease, but to no avail, as the puck was covered up by UConn goaltender Darion Hanson. The buzzer sounded, ending regulation and the crowd grew louder, with tensions rising.

Trivigno ended the game with a goal and assist, earning a spot on the all-tournament team and a back-to-back title as Tournament MVP. Fellow lineman Garrett Wait, goaltender Matt Murray and assistant captain Colin Felix were also awarded with spots.

“I’ve always been overlooked,” Trivigno said when reflecting on his hockey career. “Continue to prove people wrong, despite what they think of me and my size, my strength, or my skating, my shot, whatever it is.”

Felix’s assist on the goal scored by Trivigno, and Bohligner’s game winner was just the beginning for the offensive efforts from the defensemen throughout the game.

“Defense first,” Bohlinger said. “Good defense leads to offense and the best offense is good defense.”

Despite winning the opening faceoff, UMass was met with a determined UConn team, with the Minutemen and Huskies trading chances. However, at the end of the first period, UMass outshot them, 10-3.

Early in the second period, UConn’s John Spetz fired a shot, with Vladislac Firstov stationed in front screening Murry, and was able to redirect the puck, tucking it away and providing the Huskies with the lead early in the second period. This was forthcoming, after UConn dominating and narrowing the shot differential, forcing Matt Murray to make some major stops. Murray ended the game with 19 saves and earned the recognition on the Hockey East all-tournament team.

In UMass’ semifinal win over UMass Lowell, the Minutemen ended with a total of 21 blocks and were on track to do the same on Saturday, with them recording nine alone in the opening period. They ended with a total of 16 blocked shots, with UConn recording 20.

 At the beginning of the game, Trivigno made a huge hit on a UConn player in the neutral zone, knocking him off his feet and to the ground. Following the hit, the Huskies Chase Bradley wanted retribution, making a hit on Trivigno from behind, resulting in a penalty for interference. Throughout the power play, Ufko remained stationed at the blue line, refusing to let the puck leave the zone, but the Minutemen were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.

“I’m a pest on the ice, so I expect I’m going to get it back,” Trivigno said. “Just try to stay focused and mentally strong.”

Despite a physical contest between the two teams, there were not many penalties, with Matthew Kessel recording just the second of the game and ended the second period in the box for holding. The Minutemen had a successful kill, with them getting two vital clears and getting back to full strength without giving up any costly opportunities for the Huskies.

The last time back-to-back Hockey East championships were won was in 2013 and 2014 by UMass Lowell, with its goaltender at the time, Connor Hellebuyck also being the only other player to win back-to-back MVP. And this time around, UMass got to hoist the trophy in front of a packed house.

“We’ve won a few championships, but that’s been the best atmosphere,” Carvel said. “I want to thank all the alumni and all the fans that came out and supported us.”

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