UMass falls short in NCAA playoffs 4-3 against Minnesota

Bobby Trivigno becomes Minutemen’s all-time leading scorer in the Hockey East era

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Collegian Staff

WORCESTER — The Massachusetts hockey team walked into the DCU Center with the fans on its side but came up short of making a long playoff run.

On a delayed penalty that the Minutemen (22-13-2, 14-8-2 Hockey East) were taking advantage of, Ryan Ufko passed the puck to Cal Kiefiuk, who quickly moved it along to Reed Lebster who one-timed it right into the goal to give UMass a 1-0 lead. Lebster later scored a goal in the second period to extend UMass’ lead.

With UMass still having a power play, Garrett Wait scored to give the Minutemen the momentum they needed in the first after falling behind the Gophers (25-12-0, 18-6-0 Big Ten) throughout the first half of the opening period.

“Obviously that was ideal,” Anthony Del Gaizo said on UMass’ start. “We were super opportunistic and got ahead 2-0 there. Obviously it’s exactly what we wanted to do.”

The Minutemen’s defense was a bright spot in the lineup, and they were on both sides of the ice in the first half of the game on Friday. Ufko added two assists on the night while also taking shots and pressuring Minnesota goaltender, Justen Close. His partner Matthew Kessel was using his size to his advantage, laying multiple big hits on the Gophers.

Goaltender Matt Murray has been solid in the net for UMass in the postseason and against the Gophers he faltered, giving up four goals. Murray still came up with big saves, keeping the game close.

Ben Myers shot a hard shot at the goaltender, but Murray came up big with a save, making the DCU Center crowd erupt into cheers. He also was able to trip up the Gophers on breakaways. As a Minnesota player skated fast at Murray, the graduate student held his ground, moving with the puck and turning the shot away.

The UMass defense gave up an ugly goal late in the first period. After a Gophers shot the puck at Murray, the puck bounced off the goaltender’s pads, right off of Colin Felix’s leg. Aaron Bohlinger was near the post but could not get there in time to keep the puck out of the net, allowing Minnesota to cut the score in half. With less than three minutes in the period, Murray also gave up a goal to Tristan Broz to make a one goal game heading into the last period.

The Minutemen defense was showing discipline in the start of the game, but in the third period, Felix and Ufko were both whistled for penalties at different points. Ufko’s penalty proved costly, allowing Minnesota to score to tie the game 3-3.

“I don’t feel like we lost momentum in the game. If you were to ask me just how our team played, would I be happy with it? 100 percent, I thought we played a really good game,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said.

Despite not adding a goal, Bobby Trivigno added an assist on Wait’s goal. That assist may have seemed small to Trivigno at the time, but it made him the UMass all-time leading scorer in the Hockey East era. Trivigno was close to scoring many times throughout the game but could not get it past Close. He skated many times through the offensive zone on what seemed to be the start of a typical Trivigno goal but wasn’t able to finish the play.

Josh Lopina’s efforts in a 3-3 game were shown on the ice. The center was coming up with big hits to keep Minnesota players off of the net. With less than three minutes left, the Gophers were on Murray, but Lopina was able to get the puck out of the paint, making a critical play for UMass.

Even with many scoring chances, the Minutemen headed to overtime. Despite defensive efforts, the Minutemen fell short of advancing in the NCAA playoffs.

“We’re champions,” Del Gaizo said. “We won Hockey East which was awesome, and we came in here and we were going to slug it out in this tournament and unfortunately we came up short. It’s not something to be proud of.”

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