College Sports

UMass men capture first ever Hockey East championship in tightly-contested battle vs. UMass Lowell

Jake Gaudet's first-period goal at 15:32 proved to be the winner for the No. 3 seed Minutemen.

Stew Milne
Jake Gaudet, captain of the University of Massachusetts men's hockey team, scored in the first period to lead the Minutemen to a 1-0 victory over UMass Lowell Saturday in the Hockey East tournament championship in Amherst, Mass.

Senior Jake Gaudet scored with 4:28 remaining in the first period, and that would be enough to give the UMass men’s hockey team its first Hockey East tournament championship with a 1-0 win over UMass Lowell at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

Junior Bobby Trivignowas named tournament MVP after scoring two goals and four assists through the first two games.

“It’s unreal. It’s great to be part of the first team to win the Hockey East playoffs,” said Trivigno. “We won the regular season the other year [2019], but there’s nothing like winning playoffs. I’m honored to be on this team. We’re going to go down in [expletive] history.”

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No. 3 seed UMass (16-5-4) took advantage of a UML turnover to get on the scoreboard. Senior Carson Gicewicz skated the puck down the right side on a three-on-two advantage and fed Gaudet across the middle. Gaudet broke through and fired a shot on Henry Welsch, who made the initial save, but Gaudet was able to corral the rebound as he drifted to the left of the net, and banked the rebound off Welsch for the game’s only goal.

Both teams could have looked at the moment as a good omen, as UMass entered the game with a 13-0-1 record when scoring the first goal, while the River Hawks had allowed the first goal in each of their three playoff victories this season. But there would be no more scoring from either team, as Filip Lindbergstopped all 16 UMass Lowell shots for the shutout victory.

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“Profoundly important day for our program,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “I’ve been here five years, and it’s been a steady climb to this point. I can’t say that I ever thought we’d be Hockey East champions, but every kid in this program has sacrificed, every coach, every staff member. We’ve done things the right way. We haven’t taken any shortcuts and every year we climbed a little higher.”

It was just the second time UMass reached the championship game, having lost its only other appearance in triple overtime to Maine in 2004.

The Minutemen will await word on where and when they will be playing in the NCAA regionals, which begin on Friday. The selection show will air on ESPNU on Sunday at 7 p.m.

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UMass went on the power play for the first time all postseason when junior Anthony Del Gaizo was dragged down on a breakaway attempt, drawing a hooking penalty with 17:17 remaining in the second period. Freshman Josh Lopina had a good chance in the slot, but Welsch made a glove save to keep UML within one goal.

The River Hawks went on a power play of their own when UMass was whistled for interference with 4:11 left in the second period, and had several good chances from Andre Lee, who had one shot clang off the crossbar, and another that was gloved by Lindberg. Through 40 minutes, UMass held a 15-10 shot advantage.

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In the third period, UMass went on the power play again after UML was called for a cross check. Sophomore Zac Jonesalmost made it 2-0 on the man advantage when his shot from the point got by Welsch, but the puck hit the left post and stayed out of the net.

UMass Lowell (10-9-1) thought it had the game-tying goal, believing the puck had crossed the goal line during a scrum in front of the net with 7:12 remaining, with junior Lucas Condottatrying to push the puck across the line, but it was not ruled a goal on ice, and video reviews were inconclusive.

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“That goal review, that was probably the difference for us,” said UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “I thought we had a second wind if that went our way.”

The River Hawks were attempting to become the first seventh-seed to win the tournament, and the first team to defeat the top three seeds in the tournament, having defeated the No. 1 seed Boston College in the semifinals and No. 2 Boston University in the quarterfinals. UMass Lowell also would have automatically qualified the team for the NCAA tournament with a win, but may end up on the outside looking in after the bracket is revealed Sunday night.

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