Captain Jake Gaudet scored the only goal for the Minutemen
It was a moment that no coach, player or fan will ever forget. The Massachusetts 2020-21 hockey team made its name in the history books, becoming the first to win a Hockey East Championship in program history.
No. 3 seeded UMass (16-5-4, 16-5-4 HEA) moves No. 7-seeded UMass Lowells (10-8-1, 19-9-1 HEA) magical postseason comes to an end with a 1- 0 win, grinding a 60-minute defensive battle and the River Hawks surviving.
A very important day for our hockey program, said coach Greg Carvel after the game. I am very proud to be part of this program, I am proud of the children.
It took the Minutemen almost the full first frame to put one past Henry Welsch, and even when Captain Jake Gaudet did, it wasn’t pretty. The senior took a shot that turned Welsch to the side, then collected his own rebound and threw Welsch’s blocker puck from behind the net, giving him a favorable deflection in goal.
I should have scored earlier, I think, said Gaudet. Then the puck came to me and there were bodies in the front, at first I tried to take it to Carson [Gicewicz] or just to hit something, and luckily it did.
And on Saturday night, that one goal was all it took. For the next 45 minutes, neither team got a lead over the other. UMass was unable to extend its lead further, but it was not required.
As has been the case throughout the year, the Minutemen relied on their stifling defense to take scoring opportunities away from UMass Lowell. And what little the River Hawks got was all consumed by Filip Lindberg, who ended his night with 16 saves and a shutout.
Lindberg’s most important moment came past the middle of the third frame, when UML appeared to be right. The junior scrambled on his back and somehow prevented the puck from completely crossing the goal line, keeping him a UMass lead at a pivotal moment.
It has now grown to be completely stable, consistent and reliable no matter the situation, Carvel said. In addition to the team that plays for him, you need your keeper to make some big saves, and tonight there were a few pucks bouncing around and he kept them out.
And when the last horn sounded, the party for the Minutemen began. UMass wore their Hockey East Champion caps and covered the blue line, while four of the players Lindberg, Gaudet, Zac Jones and Bobby Trivigno were honored with All-Tournament team selections.
Trivigno also took home the tournament MVP award for the six points he collected in the three postseason-games.
But the real prize was what came next: the championship trophy. Carvel, along with the captains and seniors, rallied around Commissioner Steve Metcalf and received the hardware and returned it to the team for an emotional celebration.
In addition to its big impact on the schedule, the HEA Tournament win also saw what was almost guaranteed for the Minutemen: an NCAA Tournament berth and a chance to avenge their 2019 championship loss.
UMass will learn its way into the NCAA tournament on Sunday. But for the time being the party will continue as usual.
Our senior class has taken this program from last place to first, Carvel said. And they walked off the ice at Mullins, their last ever off the ice, with a Hockey East trophy in their hands, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected]Follow him on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.
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