The momentum built up over weeks and the game was finally here. It was a battle for the State, UMass Vs UMass. Who would take the title as Hockey East Champions? The game was filled with heart racing moments that made every fan jump out of their seats. This was the final game and the UMass Minutemen reigned supreme.
This will be a game that will go down in UMass history as this season’s 2020-21 team has done what no UMass team has done before. They fought hard over the course of this year to place as the third seed heading into the playoffs, and man did they take hold of this tournament. We saw it with Northeastern and Providence where they never once wavered in their strong lead. Keeping up with this, defensemen Marc Del Gaizo made an excellent play in the second where he forced Lowell player Matt Brown away as he approached the net. By playing towards Brown’s chest Del Gaizo avoided any chance of a penalty and managed to get the puck away so Filip Lindberg could cover and pause play. Such key players on the roster held the line and kept pucks away from Lindberg who absolutely dominated in goal. In this final match he came out with a shutout after stopping an impressive 16 shots on goal. Even when times looked tough in front of the net, Lindberg played with patience and strength, as shown by one play specifically where he was forced into the net as a whole herd of players had jumped on him. Lowell, believing the puck to have crossed the blue line, started yelling at the referees to review the play. However, the linesman on the ice originally called it no goal. No matter if the puck crossed the line or not, there was definite goalie interference on Lindberg. After a few minutes it was deemed no goal after review. Despite this one instance being so chaotic, Lindberg managed to control the puck really well throughout the game. He even had an amazing glove save on Lowell’s forward Andre Lee who was a real force for the Riverhawks.
Lee had a dominating presence in the game for Lowell as he seemed to be thrown out onto the ice constantly. All you heard from the announcers was his name followed by “…puts the puck on net…” Despite this solid play for the Riverhawks, he failed at getting the puck past Lindberg. This is something that UMass Captain Jake Gaudet succeeded at against Lowell goaltender Henry Welsch late into the first. This is definitely a goal that you need to go back and rewatch if you missed it. Gaudet shoots the puck and it rebounds off of Welsch and the side of the net just slightly behind it. With quick thinking, Gaudet stays with the puck and shoots it towards the net where it then goes off the arm of Welsch and in. What a tremendous goal by Gaudet, he scored his third goal of the season in his final game on home ice. Well deserved and I am sure every UMass fan jumped out of their seat when they witnessed it crossing the blue line. Unfortunately for UMass fans, none were permitted into the game to see this all unfold in person. I am sure however that in the case that fans could attend, Mullins would have been lit up from fan excitement and pride. It is nothing short of amazing what this team has accomplished, and I am sure every student, alumni, or future Minutestudent feels the momentum of this victory.
Lastly, at the conclusion of the game several players from UMass and a few from Lowell were named on the Hockey East All Star Team. These players consisted of goaltender Filip Lindberg (UM), defensemen Zac Jones (UM), Anthony Baxter (UML), forwards Bobby Trivigno (UM), Jake Gaudet (UM), and Matt Brown (UML). Lastly, Bobby Trivigno earned MVP of the series as well as the Walter Brown Award of which he is the first to win in UMass history.
UMass now looks ahead to the NCAA Bridgeport Regional matchup against Lake Superior on Friday March 26 at 6:30. To be a part of the Militia from home, follow along on twitter and Instagram to cheer on your UMass Minutemen!