UMass will face off against UMass Lowell in Hockey East Semifinals

The Minutemen are 3-0-1 in their last four meetings against the River Hawks

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Maya Geer/ Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts hockey team capped off its final home game with a win over Providence in the Hockey East quarterfinals, and now it looks to a semifinal matchup against a familiar opponent in UMass Lowell.

“Two teams that have become rivals,” head coach Greg Carvel said of the River Hawks. “Played each other for the championship last year, and this year we play for the right to get to the championship.”

Ahead of the matchup, it was announced on Tuesday that Bobby Trivigno was named Hockey East Player of the Year. This is the second time a Minuteman has won the award in program history.

“It’s a huge accomplishment, and you can be — in our league especially — you can be an elite player and still not win this award,” Carvel said. “To me he was the most dominant player. If you watched our team play, it doesn’t matter how much you know about hockey, you come away saying that number eight is their best player. Most valuable players are the guys that makes your team go and [Trivigno] does that for us in every single possible way.”

This is the fourth meeting of the season between UMass and UMass Lowell. In the first matchup, the game was sent to overtime after being tied 4-4, and although the game officially counted as a tie, UMass Lowell came away with a win in the shootout. This was Anthony Del Gaizo’s first career two-point game, adding to his total of seven goals this season. He, along with Cal Kiefiuk and Reed Lebster have been continuously challenged by Carvel to produce more offense, but have produced inconsistent results.

“When they’re good, we’re good,” Carvel said. “When [Del Gaizo] is contributing, [it] makes us a much tougher team. When [Kiefiuk] and [Lebster] are contributing, [it] makes us a really good team. The depth of our scoring is the issue on our team.”

UMass returned home to the Mullins Center the following night to finish the series and picked up a win in regulation, with Del Gaizo picking up yet another two-point game.

“Like every Hockey East game, it’s going to be physical and it’s going to come down to one or two mistakes,” Del Gaizo said. “We just got to make sure we capitalize on our opportunities and not give up any on our own side.”

Scott Morrow scored a goal in each matchup against the River Hawks, including the game winner in their third matchup of the season. During that game, UMass Lowell opened the scoring with a goal 1:38 into the game, leaving UMass scrambling up until the final minutes.

“But bottom line is if you’re not smart, you don’t compete,” Carvel said. “That’s been an issue with us against them, with the last game against them, they scored a minute and a half into the game. We better be ready to compete, or they’re going to take advantage of it.”

Throughout the entire season, Carvel has been quick to recognize the first line for their efforts, with Trivigno leading the charge. However, after Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Providence, it was Josh Lopina who came away with four points and earned Hockey East player of the week for his effort.

Matt Murray was also key in leader the Minutemen to victory on Saturday and is the goaltender that UMass will rely on throughout the entirety of the playoffs. He recorded 45 saves, only allowing two goals.

“We don’t ever rely on our goalies to steal games, but once in a while you need him to and that was the case against Providence.” Carvel said. “He’s allowed to give up two goals, but not three. And that’s his standard … I don’t care how many shots he has, he’s got to find a way to keep it to two and under. That was a money goalie performance on Saturday.”

The Minutemen will take the ice at the TD Garden for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop on Friday.

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