Bobby Trivigno’s evolution pushed UMass hockey to championship caliber

  • UMass forward Bobby Trivigno was known as a pest his freshman year. The junior has evolved into UMass' catalyst, as the Minutemen won their first Hockey East championship and prepare for the NCAA Tournament. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS—THOM KENDALL

  • UMass forward Bobby Trivigno was named the MVP of the Hockey East tournament after collecting six points in three ga THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass forward Bobby Trivigno dropped an expletive live on NESN after the Minutemen won the Hockey East championship. UMass coach Greg Carvel told him he didn’t care. “That’s what he is. Bobby’s raw, and wouldn’t want him any other way,” Carvel said. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/24/2021 5:41:46 PM

Bobby Trivigno went to the penalty box after a slashing penalty late in the second period against Providence on Jan. 23.

UMass killed the penalty early in the third period of a 1-1 game. When Trivigno returned to the bench, UMass coach Greg Carvel didn’t send him back in for the rest of the game.

“I deserved to sit on the bench. During it, I let it go and I was the best teammate I could be cheering my teammates on,” Trivigno said. “It shows who Carvy is with the players. It doesn’t matter who you are. He’s going to treat everyone the same way. It doesn’t matter if you’re assistant captain, you don’t get to take stupid penalties and continue to play.”

The Minutemen won in a shootout.

“It was motivating to me. It was something I regret doing even though it was insignificant, in the long run I think it has had a lasting impact on me,” Trivigno said.

In the eight games since, Trivigno has amassed 12 points, been named a Hockey East all-star, earned the Hockey East Tournament MVP award and won the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England. He’s also stayed out of the box, not committing a single penalty since.

“(Sitting him) sent a message. Believe me, he’ll probably thank us at some point. Told us it was the right thing to do, and he responded accordingly,” Carvel said. “Ever since then, he’s been outstanding. Bobby’s absolutely flying. That’s the best part of this time of year, some kids keep finding new levels.”

UMass will open its second consecutive NCAA Tournament (the 2020 edition was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic) against Lake Superior State on Friday in Bridgeport, Conn., and Trivigno is a different player from his first trip as a freshman.

When Trivigno arrived at UMass two years ago as a lightly-recruited freshman out of Setauket, N.Y., he was a role player on one of the best teams in the country. Trivigno was a pest, agitating the opposition and inspiring his teammates with his passion. He finished with 13 goals and 15 assists as a rotational forward and committed 10 penalties, earning a game misconduct against Merrimack. An elbow he threw against Denver in the Frozen Four wasn’t called at the time, but he was suspended for the national championship game against Minnesota-Duluth, which UMass lost 3-0.

In a shorter season last year, he also was whistled 10 times.

“I told him this year, I’m not dealing with that,” Carvel said. “You need to stay out of the box. That’s where you need to grow, in that area. Being able to emotionally control yourself, that’s a big growth area for me.”

Trivigno took it to heart. He’s only been sent to the box four times this year. The junior attributes some of the honing to working with Mark Randall, UMass’ “peak performance consultant” that helps the Minutemen develop the mental side of the game.

“He was able to help me greatly, keep me in control of my emotions,” Trivigno said. “Before it was a little hard to control but now I feel like I’m fully in control of what I’m doing on the ice and I’m not acting out of my emotions.”

He’s less of a pest and more of a problem for opposing defenses. Trivigno has produced more than a point per game, leading the Minutemen with 20 assists. He’s also second on the team with 10 goals.

“I’m proud of the type of player I am. Every team needs a player like me where they’re on the edge agitating the other team. I’m proud of the way I play, no matter what,” Trivigno said.

He sets an example the Minutemen are thrilled to follow.

“Everyone knows Bobby, on our team, brings a lot of fire,” sophomore defenseman Zac Jones said. “I think he does by far the most and a lot of us try to match that.”

Trivigno produced three points in each of UMass’ first two postseason games and had two shots on goal against UMass Lowell in the championship game.

“Bobby’s game has come a long way. His style hasn’t changed. He’s gotten quicker, he’s gotten stronger. I think he’s better with the puck, better at finishing,” Carvel said. “Little details to his game have gotten better but he’s always been pesky, outwilled his opponent.”

After being named the tournament MVP, Trivigno gave a live postgame interview. He dropped an F-bomb as he said the team was going down in history. Trivigno apologized to the announcers immediately, and expressed remorse to Carvel once he skated back over to the trophy celebration.

“That’s what he is. Bobby’s raw, and wouldn’t want him any other way. I said ‘I don’t F-in care Bobby. Just pick up this trophy and hold it a little longer.’ I love raw emotion, and we all do,” Carvel said “It’s nice to see something other than the usual ‘words can’t describe what I’m feeling.’ I enjoy everything Bobby brings to our program, he’s awesome. I feel strongly he elevated us to a championship-level team this year.”

 Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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