Hockey East tournament: Bobby Trivigno’s 3 points leads UMass past Northeastern into semifinals

  • UMass junior forward Bobby Trivigno tallied three points as the Minutemen beat Northeastern 4-1 on Sunday at the Mullins Center in Amherst to advance to the Hockey East semifinals. The Minutemen will host Providence on Wednesday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass forward Jerry Harding celebrated Philip Lagunov’s rebound goal to cement the 4-1 victory over Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals Sunday at the Mullins Center in Amherst. UMass will host Providence in the semifinals Wednesday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass’ Jerry Harding celebrates teammate Philip Lagunov’s goal during the Minutemen’s 4-1 win over Northeastern on Sunday at the Mullins Center. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/14/2021 8:58:44 PM

Bobby Trivigno put himself exactly where the UMass hockey team needed him.

Whether that meant assisting the Minutemen’s first two goals or scoring their third, the junior alternate captain regularly made the right decision against Northeastern on Sunday in the Hockey East quarterfinals. He finished with three points as UMass, the third seed, took down the sixth-seeded Huskies 4-1 at the Mullins Center.

The Minutemen will host No. 5 Providence at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals following the Friars’ 6-1 win over No. 4 UConn and seventh-seeded UMass Lowell upsetting No. 2 Boston University.

“At the beginning of the year, I knew he was going to be an important player for us,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said of Trivigno. “I didn’t know he was going to be one of the best players in our league.”

Trivigno was named one of four finalists for the Hockey East Men’s Player of the Year award hours before the puck dropped and quickly lived up to the billing. Trivigno corralled the puck behind Northeastern’s net within the first three minutes then slipped a pass to a charging Garret Wait between two defenders while being pushed into the boards. Wait’s one-time shot blew by Northeastern goalie Collin Murphy for a 1-0 UMass lead 2 minutes, 54 seconds into the game. Josh Lopina, a finalist for Hockey East Rookie of the Year, added a secondary assist.

The early goal put UMass’ regular-season ending shootout loss to Maine completely behind the Minutemen, which are ranked seventh nationally.

The Maine game, we saw that coming. No matter what we tried to do after a big win against BC, those things happen,” Carvel said. “This is playoff hockey, we had something to prove tonight to ourselves. I figure the kids were going to come out to their usual standards, which they did.”

Five and a half minutes later, sophomore defenseman Zac Jones batted down a Northeastern pass with his hand then zipped a pass up the left side to Trivigno. With one defender between him and Murphy, Trivigno waited as Jones powered into the offensive zone. He centered Jones a pass, which he blasted for a 2-0 lead. Matt Kessel also picked up an assist on the play.

Northeastern, ranked 20th nationally, gained its footing in the second period. The Huskies outshot UMass 20-13 and pulled a goal back 10:37 in when Jeremie Bucheler beat Filip Lindberg, who finished with 25 saves, for his first goal of the season from Jayden Struble.

“We had a little momentum and a little mojo,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “The third goal really hurt us.”

Trivigno stepped into the spotlight for that one. He gained possession at center ice after a Northeastern turnover. Wait was on his left with a defender between them. Trivigno faked a pass to Wait then beat Murphy between his legs with 1:52 left to send the Minutemen to the third period with a two-goal lead. Colin Felix had an assist.

“I’m not looking at stats, shot and goal and things like that,” Madigan said. “(UMass) wanted it more and they were heavier than us, which is a hard pill to swallow as a coach but that’s the fact and that’s the reality.”

Senior Philip Lagunov put a bow on the performance 4:16 into the third. He crashed the net after Murphy turned Jerry Harding’s breakaway attempt aside and slammed it into the net for a decisive three-goal advantage.

“That was a huge goal by Phil, really happy for him. He’s had an up and down year. He was playing well (Sunday) that’s why I bumped him up on that shift,” Carvel said. “You need kids to step up.”

The victory advances UMass to the Hockey East semifinals for the second consecutive tournament and fifth time overall. The Minutemen were the No. 2 seed last season before the pandemic canceled the postseason. They have one more game guaranteed at the Mullins Center, which looked emptier than usual to Carvel in a year without fans in the stands.

“For whatever reason most of the games not having fans you get adjusted to it, and it felt normal. (Sunday) it felt weird,” he said. “Maybe because it’s playoffs, and it feels like the start of the season again. I thought our team and our bench did a good job bringing their own energy. When these kids are energized to play they’re a really good team.”

UMass hasn’t reached the Hockey East championship game since 2004 and has never won a Hockey East title. Facing Providence for the fourth time this season is the next step. The teams split two shootouts in late January, then the Minutemen blasted the Firars 8-1 on Feb. 23 after returning from a two-week pause.

“We’re gonna take that 8-1 win out of our mind,” Carvel said. “They won handily at UConn (Sunday) and are going to be looking for revenge.”


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