Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass club hockey wins ACHA national championship

Minutemen goaltender Thomas Haley shuts out Iowa in a 4-0 win
Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian.

The Massachusetts club hockey team took home the national championship after a 4-0 victory over the University of Iowa in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Championship on Tuesday.

With just over five minutes left in the game, the Minutemen (18-8-1-0) showed off some quick passes to move the puck amongst three skaters.

The third to find the puck was Thomas Milne. He was set up on the right side of the crease, waiting with his stick on the ice. After receiving the pass, he sent the puck five-hole into the back of the net, past the Hawkeyes (18-3-0-1) goaltender.

After scoring, he skated over to the UMass fan section hoisting the front part of his jersey to the sky with “Massachusetts” printed across it. Excitement and emotion poured out of the players and fans.

The fourth goal of the game set up a large lead for the Minutemen with five minutes remaining. Thomas Haley kept it clean and finished with a shutout performance in net for UMass, holding strong through the last minutes.

“For [Haley] it was his nice little send-off,” head coach Mike DeFazio said. “He earned it. He works harder than anybody else. It all paid off. It came with a nice little bow on top with the shutout as well.”

Haley finished with 25 saves on 25 shots, a flawless performance in net allowing the Minutemen to take home the win.

As the last second ticked off the clock, the UMass bench erupted with players tossing their helmets, gloves and sticks into the air in celebration. The Minutemen skated over to the UMass fan section jumping up and down with one another.

A long season that began in September had finally come to an end, with the Minutemen crowned champions.

“I had over 200 text messages last night from family, friends, alumni, people I don’t even know who got my number,” DeFazio said. “It’s incredible the amount of support behind this program and how far it’s come.”

The Minutemen started the game off hot, finding the back of the net less than 60 seconds into the contest. Shawn Leslie came around the net and sent a soft backhand pass out into the deep slot. Captain John McGrath found the puck on his stick and snapped a wrister past the Hawkeyes goaltender.

A minor hooking penalty eight minutes into the first by Iowa created a great opportunity for the Minutemen to extend their lead.

Captain Scott Shorrock handled the puck at the left boards, before sending a hard pass across the ice. Cameron Ryan took the puck near the right corner and passed out front, looking for a teammate to finish the opportunity.

Mitchell Rickert was in the right place at the right time and smacked a one-timer in from just in front of the Iowa goaltender, giving UMass a 2-0 lead in the first.

In the second period, the Minutemen tacked another on the board. Zachary Reiser was served up by passes from Colby Magliozzi and Sean Prendergast to light the lamp. The goal came off a deep wrister from the left point that found its way through traffic. Three players were fighting for position out front of the net, which prevented the Iowa goalie from locating the rubber disc.

Seven of the eight goal-scorers for UMass were upperclassmen, either in their final season or one of the last chances to play with the team.

“We have a veteran team,” DeFazio said. “With 12 seniors that were here last year. Last year taught them some valuable lessons. I think having that experience allowed those leaders to lead by example when they needed to and I think you saw that play out exactly the way it did, putting the team on their back.”

UMass went into the third period with a three-goal lead. The Minutemen had been putting pucks on net all game, finishing with a total of 42 shots on the night. The UMass penalty kill unit was also busy throughout the game. Four different penalties put the Minutemen in tough spots but they held on to the lead.

“We knew we had the legs and had to be aggressive,” DeFazio said. “We couldn’t give them any time, especially on the power-play to set up. It ended up working out where we had a lot of opportunities on the [penalty kill] and kept them with no powerplay goals.”

The Final Four matchups began on Monday with UMass facing up against the University of Saint Thomas.

The Minutemen had a quick start with three goals in the first period. Will Trischitta opened the scoring with a goal two-and-a-half minutes into the game. Ryan followed up with two goals of his own to finish off the first period.

In the second period, the UMass powerplay unit would find success as Leslie scored the eventual game-winner on the man advantage. The 4-3 win over the Tommies propelled the Minutemen into the championship game against Iowa.

A 27-game regular season was required just to qualify for nationals. Once qualified as the No. 1 seed in the Northeast region, UMass then had to make it through pool play. The Minutemen won the tiebreaker, moving them onto the final four where they would eventually take home the championship.

“There are around 190 teams in division two club hockey and to be the top team out of that is incredible,” DeFazio said. “I mean we’re talking a half a percentage chance of doing it and our guys did it.”

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mike_maynard_.

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    Alfredo DiLasciaMar 24, 2023 at 10:14 am

    It is AMAZING what Coach DeFazio has been able to do with the “Club Hockey” Team at UMass! A National Championship!
    Wow! And he always has his team in contention!

    Congratulations to the team! Congratulations to UMass!

    Alfredo DILascia
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