NCAA Tournament: 4 unanswered goals push UMass hockey past Lake Superior State

  • UMass senior captain Jake Gaudet scored the Minutemen's opening goal 10 minutes, 7 seconds in to their NCAA Tournament first round game against Lake Superior State on Friday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • Freshman defenseman Aaron Bohlinger and the UMass hockey team faced a physical Lake Superior State team in the NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/26/2021 9:24:17 PM

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Webster Bank Arena horn sounding for the final time Friday barely registered with the UMass hockey team.

The Minutemen defeated Lake Superior State 5-1 to advance in the NCAA Tournament East Regional, but they reacted like it was a mid-week conference victory. Many on the UMass roster played in the national championship game two years ago.

UMass didn’t come to Bridgeport for one win. The Minutemen want to get back to the Frozen Four.

That opportunity will come against No. 4 Bemidji State, which upset top-seeded Wisconsin in Friday’s other first round game, in the regional final at 5 p.m. Saturday back at the Webster Bank Arena. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

“We’re playing for our careers here. We don’t want this season to end,” UMass senior captain Jake Gaudet said. “I’m doing everything I can to keep it going.”

Freshman Josh Lopina broke a 1-1 tie in the second period by being in the right place. Junior Bobby Trivigno attacked the net after a spin move on the boards but was stalled by the Lakers’ defense. Lopina tapped home the loose puck from just outside the crease 11:03 into the period.

The Minutemen extended the lead not even two minutes later. On a rush, Ty Farmer fed Oliver Chau a lead pass up the left side of the ice. The senior then found Carson Gicewicz on the opposite side of the ice, and he smashed home a one-timer past a diving Marek Mitens at the 13-minute mark for a 3-1 lead.

“At that point it’s a race up the ice to their players. I was screaming and even if I wasn’t screaming Ty was going to hit me there,” Gicewicz said. “One of the easier goals I’ve ever had.”

Chau nearly made it a three-goal lead with 4 minutes left after a pinpoint stretch pass during a Lake State change left him one-on-one with Mitens, but the Lakers goalie poked the puck away before he could shoot.

Trivigno drew a boarding penalty 3:54 into the second period. It expired, but the Minutemen sustained pressure for the duration. He also committed two penalties in the frame: a tripping infraction 15:20 in that the Minutemen handled and an interference call with 5.4 seconds remaining that bled into the third.

“I didn’t say anything, I yelled it. I was not happy after two periods,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “We were sloppy through the first two periods.”

UMass weathered that, then two Lake Superior penalties (a Jack Jeffers cross check and a Jacob Nordqvist slash) gave the Minutemen a 5-on-3 with 10 minutes left. It only took 25 seconds for the lead to expand. Chau fed a pinpoint pass to Gaudet, who was parked on the crease’s doorstep and redirected the pass in for his second goal of the game and a 4-1 advantage. Zac Jones also picked up an assist.

It was Gaudet’s third goal in the past three games after a quiet regular season.

“Sometimes they just come. I have really good linemates that found me in front of the net tonight,” he said. “Those were two of the easiest goals I’ve scored.”

Gaudet’s first goal put the Minutemen on the board for the second game in a row 10:07 into the first period. Jones fired the puck in close, Jerry Harding corralled it then whipped Gaudet a backhand pass as he crashed the net following a Lake State delayed penalty.

“Their experience in this environment helped them come out a little stronger, and we had to respond,” Lake State coach Damon Whitten said. “That experience and moxie showed on their behalf.”

UMass then began its first power play because of a Benito Posa penalty. It only lasted one push. The Lakers gained possession, and UMass forward Garrett Wait was called for hooking attempting to defend shorthanded. After an uneventful 4-on-4 period, the Minutemen killed the Lakers’ power play.

Their penalty killers were called into action again 2:18 later, as Gaudet was whistled for goalie interference. Goalie Filip Lindberg was called on for one kick save, but the Minutemen largely kept the puck out of harms way. He finished with 30 saves.

“I have not given Fili Lindberg a lot of credit down the stretch, but he deserves it all (Friday),” Carvel said. “He was outstanding when we were not great.”

Lake State forward Yuki Miura rang the post on a breakway after Jones slipped with 3:07 remaining.  The Lakers scored their next trip up the ice.  Ashto Calder buried a Pete Veillette rebound to tie the game at 1 just 21 seconds later.

After the Minutemen responded with three unanswered goals, Lake State pulled Mitens for an extra attacker, gambling with an early empty net to try and extend their season. Anthony Del Gaizo made them pay with an empty net slam dunk off a stretch pass with 4:13 remaining. It was his first goal of the season.

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

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