Filip Lindberg won’t be UMass hockey’s best kept secret for long

  • UMass junior goalie is playing in his second Frozen Four next week. He's quietly one of the best netminders in the nation, and the Minutemen likely won't be able to keep that a secret for long. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass junior goalie is playing in his second Frozen Four next week. He's quietly one of the best netminders in the nation, and the Minutemen likely won't be able to keep that a secret for long. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass junior goalie is playing in his second Frozen Four next week. He's quietly one of the best netminders in the nation, and the Minutemen likely won't be able to keep that a secret for long. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/2/2021 4:17:48 PM

The best kept secret in college hockey doesn’t draw a lot of attention to himself.

UMass junior goalie Filip Lindberg stays calm and keeps the puck out.

“I’m a pretty calm guy outside the rink, too. My style of playing is pretty calm, too,” he said. “I don’t do a lot of extra stuff in the net. It’s worked for me. I don’t feel like I need to do a lot of extra stuff to motivate myself.”

Since returning from an injury Jan. 18 against Boston University, Lindberg is 9-1-3 and hasn’t lost over the past 10 games. The Espoo, Finland, native has four shutouts and only allowed multiple goals four times. He’s stopped 94.6 percent of the shots he’s faced and only allows 1.31 goals per game. Both lead the nation, but Lindberg wasn’t named a finalist for the Mike Richter Award or named a first-team Hockey East All-Star. Boston College’s Spencer Knight was named the conference’s Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker top 10 finalist. Lindberg only playing 14 games had something to do with that, though.

“Filip Lindberg may be the untold story of college hockey this year,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “He’s got stats that I don’t know if I’ve seen in a long time.”

Lindberg has the highest save percentage since Cornell’s David McKee posted a .947 mark in 2005, and his goals against average is the lowest since Michigan State’s Ryan Miller held a 1.32 average in 2001.

The story of how he reached this plateau begins in the summer. Linberg approached Carvel and asked to play more after splitting time with senior Matt Murray for two years.

“I got angry with him and said, ‘then be better.’ I know Matt’s a good goalie, but you want to play more, be better than him,” Carvel said. “And I said the same thing to Matt. I said, ‘you guys both aren’t happy. Make it easy for me.’”

Carvel set two benchmarks for Lindberg — a Minnesota Wild seventh-round draft pick in 2019 — to play every game: a .940 save percentage and allowing under two goals per game.

The competition has always made both Lindberg and Murray better. They’re close friends off the net and appreciate working together.

“I think it’s a good thing competing every day in practice for playing time. For both, it’s something that pushes us forward,” Lindberg said. “He’s a great guy. He’s a good goalie, too. We’re both making each other better out there by competing every day and supporting each other.”

Murray grabbed a hold of the net first, winning seven games in a row in December and January. Lindberg took over after a home loss to Boston University and quickly made the decision easy.

“I think for him the hold back has always been the mental part of the game. The physical part has always been there,” Carvel said. “I like his demeanor. He’s not an emotional goalie, he’s a consistent constant in everything that he does.”

Lindberg didn’t change anything about his approach. He just kept doing what he was doing but more often and with more focus. As he got more time in net, he became more comfortable there.

“[Carvel] said I needed to play better. I totally agreed with what he said. I did the same thing every day, worked hard. Nothing crazy honestly, just kept working harder and harder every day and doing my own thing,” Lindberg said.

Now he’s brought the Minutemen back to the Frozen Four. Lindberg started all four NCAA Tournament games in 2019. He’s now 6-1 in the national postseason and has only allowed one goal total in the past three games.

“It’s nothing crazy, I just love playing hockey. I love playing those big games. It’s exciting, gets me really fired up,” Lindberg said. “I just love the game, love those big games, and I want to win.”

His demeanor carries over to his teammates. They trust him in big moments because they’ve seen him deliver.

“The bigger the game, Filip is a very calm kid. That’s the nature of who he is, his personality. It’s a credit to him,” junior defenseman Marc Del Gaizo said. “He’s great when he’s under pressure. It gives me confidence and the team confidence when’s back in the net and he’s under control.”

Controlling what he can and not thinking too much about what he can’t has been important for Lindberg this year, in particular. Many of his family and friends are back in Finland, and he hasn’t seen them even as much as he’s used to due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the team’s Frozen Four game will begin at 4 a.m. in Finland, he said his parents and best friends are going to watch.

“Last year we had a Christmas break. I went home, it was super nice. It’s something you can’t really do anything about this year. It’s been fine for me,” Lindberg said. “They’re not going anywhere. They’ll be there when I go home, and I’m fine with that. Thank god we have FaceTime.”




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy