Hockey East championship: Aaron Bohlinger’s OT goal gives UMass back to back titles

  • UMass forward Bobby Trivigno was named the Hockey East Tournament MVP for the second season in a row. The Minutemen defeated UConn 2-1 in the championship game Saturday night at TD Garden. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • The UMass hockey team won a second consecutive Hockey East tournament championship when it defeated UConn 2-1 in overtime Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass coach Greg Carvel guided UMass to its second straight Hockey East tournament championship Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. The Minutemen beat UConn 2-1 in overtime. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass captain Bobby Trivigno was first to lift the Lamoriello Trophy for the second year in a row after the Minutemen defended their Hockey East tournament championship. They defeated UConn 2-1 on Saturday night. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass sophomore defenseman Aaron Bohlinger scored the game-winning goal in overtime Saturday at TD Garden to deliver the Minutemen their second straight Hockey East Tournament championship. They defeated UConn 2-1 in Boston. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass forward Bobby Trivigno, second from right, is embraced by teammates, from right, Colin Felix, Josh Lopina and Aaron Bohlinger after scoring a goal in the second period against UConn in Saturday’s Hockey East championship game at TD Garden in Boston. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/19/2022 9:59:16 PM

BOSTON – Aaron Bohlinger only scores championship-winning goals, apparently.

The UMass sophomore has two career goals: his first came 7 minutes, 26 seconds into the national championship game last season and started a five-goal rout, and his second on Saturday delivered the UMass Hockey team its second consecutive Hockey East title.

Anthony Del Gaizo beat UConn’s Roman Kinal for the puck behind the net in overtime and shoveled it to Bobby Trivigno. He had his face pressed against the glass by a check and sent a back-handed pass on target to Bohlinger waiting between the circles at the point. Bohlinger whipped a shot through traffic, taking a slight deflection off UConn forward Jachym Kondelik before snapping the top right corner of the net.

Del Gaizo reached Bohlinger first, leaping in the air to tackle him and start the dog pile with the TD Garden clock frozen at 16:54 and the scoreboard showing UMass 2, UConn 1.

“We did it pretty early, which is nice so you don’t have to worry about it anymore,”  Bohlinger said. “We knew we had them on the heels and did the right things. Put it on net, good things happen.”

The second-seeded Minutemen became the first repeat Hockey East champions since UMass Lowell (who they beat in the semifinal) in 2013 and 2014. UConn, the No. 4 seed, was playing in its first Hockey East final after joining the league as a men’s program in 2014.

“Repeating is really hard. I've been very proud of many, many things here over six years. Maybe repeating Hockey Championship might be number one,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel, who guided the Minutemen to their first Hockey East and national championships last season.

The Minutemen (22-12-2) clinched a berth in their third straight NCAA Tournament with another conference championship but it took completing a comeback, something they’d only done four times all year.

Living up to his name, UConn’s Vladislav Firstov scored the game’s first goal. He deflected a John Spetz shot past Matt Murray despite facing backward away from the net, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead 2:25 into the second period. Carter Berger added an assist, as well. Firstov put away the first goal in all three UConn playoff games to stake the Huskies leads.

“They were better than us in the first (period). We couldn’t get the puck through the neutral zone,” Carvel said. “They do a really god job of getting pucks to the net. Our fourth line got stuck out there and allowed them to get a couple bits at the net. We felt like we were able to open the game up and start wearing them down.”

The lead lasted 13:06 before Trivigno ran his point streak to three games. A Colin Felix stretch pass sprung Trivigno into an empty UConn zone during a change. Trivigno sized up Hanson then beat him through his legs, the second time in a row he scored five-hole in TD Garden. His 20th goal of the season extended a career high.

“I don’t think we were playing bad up until that point. When they scored it was, ‘we gotta go, gotta get something going here.’ I got lucky on that goal,” Trivigno said. “I was just waiting for that puck to settle and literally just shot it on net and got lucky it went in. Being down one goal, one shot could go in the net and it’s tied.”

The third period ended with that 1-1 score. UMass out shot the Huskies 32-18 and tested UConn goalie Darion Hanson (31 saves) several times in the final few minutes but couldn’t slam the last touch home.

Bohlinger finished the job shortly into the extra frame.

“It looked like the puck had eyes. Sometimes that happens in overtime,” UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “I’m not surprised by anything in thi

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