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NCAA 2021 Frozen Four Championship


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The ‘best moment of their life’: UMass men’s hockey team rolls over St. Cloud State to win national championship

Andrew Mahoney  4 hrs ago
 
 
 
 

 

From the very beginning of the season, UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel stressed that he liked the depth of this year’s squad.

 

The Minutemen might not have any Hobey Baker candidates on the 2020-21 roster as they had the previous two seasons, but Carvel believed the offense would come from a variety of sources, while stressing that defense wins championships.

 

UMass rode that philosophy all the way to the Frozen Four at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh Saturday, where it captured its first national title after getting goals from five players in a 5-0 win over St. Cloud State. The Minutemen became the first Hockey East team to win the NCAA championship since Providence in 2015.

 

“I’m very happy for our kids,” said Carvel. “We’ve pushed them very hard the last four years, the senior class especially.”

Two years after national title heartbreak, dominant UMass knew how to get it done

 

Junior goalie Filip Lindberg, who missed Thursday’s semifinal because of COVID-19 contact tracing protocols and school policies, was back in net for UMass, recording 24 saves for his fourth career shutout in the tournament, an NCAA record.

 

Junior Bobby Trivigno, who took advantage of a bad line change by St. Cloud and beat St. Cloud goalie David Hrenak with a short-side wrister with 14 minutes left in the game for UMass’s fifth goal, was named the Most Oustanding Player of the tournament.

 

“We have a really deep team,” said Trivigno. “Our [defensemen] did a great job tonight. It was a group effort in the D zone, and it takes a lot to shut out a team. I think we earned it. They did an amazing job.”

 

UMass got goals from a pair of unlikely sources in the opening 20 minutes to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

 

Freshman Aaron Bohlinger picked a good time to get his first collegiate goal, skating the puck up ice off a turnover. It quickly became a two on none as a pair of St. Cloud skaters collided and fell down.

 

Bohlinger broke overto the left and kicked it across ice to classmate Ryan Sullivan, who drew Hrenak to his side before sending it back to Bohlinger, who one-timed it for a 1-0 lead 7:26 into the game.

 

UMass’s second goal had a slight resemblance to Thursday night’s game-winner, with sophomore Cal Kiefiuk circling around the back of the net and firing the puck across the crease to Reed Lebster, who knocked it in for his second goal of the season with just 1:04 left in the first period.

 

“Our depth has been a huge reason why we made it to the game tonight,” said senior captain Jake Gaudet. “I’m so happy for these guys to put pucks in the net; they completely deserve it. We wouldn’t be here without a solid four-line team and we have six great [defensemen] that play outstanding and a great goalie.

 

St. Cloud had a chance to take the lead in the opening minutes of the game, as Veeti Miettinen fired a wrister past Lindberg, but the puck clanked off the crossbar. The Huskies would finish the first period with just three shots on goal.

 

A pair of special teams goals gave the Minutemen a cushion in the second period. St. Cloud appeared to have a chance to get back in the game when it went on a power play with 16:03 remaining, but Philip Lagunov turned the tables on the Huskies, causing a turnover and carrying the puck across the blue line, then deking defenseman Nick Perbix and beating Hrenak with a backhander, five-hole for a 3-0 advantage.

 

It was the senior’s fourth goal of the season, and 16th of his 129-game career.

“We talked a lot about five-hole goals and trying to spread the goalie open over the past few months,” said Lagunov. “In terms of putting it in, that was put in practice.”

 

After St. Cloud mustered just one shot on a power play midway through the period, UMass went on a power play of its own after the Huskies were whistled for too many men on the ice.

 

The Minutemen executed perfectly on the man advantage, keeping the puck in the St. Cloud zone and extending the lead on Matt Kessel’s one-timer from the point off a feed from Oliver Chau for a 4-0 lead with 6:45 remaining in the middle period.

 

The Huskies managed to get off a flurry of shots late in the period, finishing with 12 shots for a two-period total of 15, but Lindberg had the answer each time as UMass carried the 4-0 advantage into the final 20 minutes.

 

With the game in hand with three minutes remaining, Carvel called his team together during a timeout so they could embrace the moment.

 

“You don’t get an opportunity like that too often in a championship situation,” said Carvel. “I was told by some people today to enjoy the moment and soak it in, so I said that to the kids.

 

“The game was obviously over, and I wanted to say something to them before things got crazy. I wanted them to come in tight, and look each other in the eyes, and remember the moment, because honestly it will be the best moment of their life, and I just wanted them to hear that from me, and hear my gratitude for all they’ve done.”

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UMass hockey championship puts ‘NewMass’ on the map

Nick Mallard  1 hr ago
 
 
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Though they rarely ever need it in order to party, the student body has cause to celebrate in Amherst.

 

Historically overshadowed and overlooked, scoffed at by supporters of programs with massive legacies at Hockey East foes like Boston College and Boston University, the flagship university of the commonwealth stepped out of those lengthy shadows Saturday night.

 

And when the clock turned to all zeroes on the scoreboard at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, the University of Massachusetts announced its reign atop the college hockey world in quite possibly the most decisive way possible: with a 5-0 thrashing of St. Cloud State for the NCAA Division 1 Championship.

 

From doormats and afterthoughts to champions. UMass has come a long way.

 

It was just two years ago that the Minutemen were outclassed in the national championship game by Minnesota Duluth.

 

And with no tournament last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been easy to chalk UMass’s run to the title game in 2019 as a fluke, a flash in the pan by a program that managed to get hot at the right time.

 

Stun the college hockey world once, shame on the Minutemen. Shock the collegiate puck experts twice, you’ve officially arrived, UMass.

 

It wasn’t long ago that the line to get into Amherst favorite Antonio’s Pizza was longer than any line to get into the Mullins Center for a UMass hockey game.

 

Fans would often cheer mascots playing between periods more enthusiastically than anyone wearing a maroon and white jersey.

 

And while the likes of Jonathan Quick, Cale Makar, Conor Sheary, Matt Irwin and Justin Braun had ascended to the NHL ranks out of Amherst, the Minutemen were still often viewed as second-class citizens in a loaded conference.

 

That’s all changed.

 

When head coach Greg Carvel took over in 2016, there was hope for dreadful old UMass to become NewMass, a term social media grabbed hold of and optimism ran wild. It took a few seasons, but the glory days have arrived.

By the time Philip Lagunov scored the Minutemen’s third goal of Saturday night’s game on a gorgeous shorthanded tally, there was little doubt that the title was headed back to Western Mass. That didn’t stop the Hockey East tournament champions from potting a couple more goals for good measure or netminder Filip Lindberg turning aside every St. Cloud shot that came his way with ease; that was all just the icing on a cake that was a long time coming for the UMass faithful.

 

There’s been success in Amherst in the past, it just pales in comparison to what the Minutemen were able to accomplish in this, a season made all the more challenging by strict COVID-19 regulations.

 

And the road to the title wasn’t a leisurely skate around the rink, either; UMass had to essentially defeat all of Minnesota to take home the crown as three of its four NCAA tournament opponents hailed from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

 

After cruising past Lake Superior State — out of Michigan — to open the tournament, UMass trounced Bemidji State, snuck past Minnesota Duluth in overtime and then started the celebration early in Saturday’s title tilt against St. Cloud.

 

Not a bad run by any means.

 

Ranked sixth at the end of the regular season, the Minutemen’s charge to the title isn’t a complete and total shock. They won the Hockey East tournament, blanking upstart UMass Lowell in the title game.

 

The Minutemen don’t have the myriad lottery picks of Boston University or Boston College. Their history might even take a backseat to other conference foes, such as Maine or New Hampshire.

 

But while the big names and deep legacy might not be there, it’s what’s now taken home in the Mullins Center that counts most: a national title and no doubt that UMass has, for now at the very least, turned Hockey East and the collegiate hockey spotlight to the town of Amherst.

 

The Minutemen have arrived and belong with college hockey’s elite.

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