Frozen 4 School Hockey Staff Preview: UMass opens with defending champ Minnesota Duluth, in search of redemption from 2019 title recreation


Zac Jones has been regular all season on the UMass again finish (photograph: Wealthy Gagnon)

That is the primary of 4 workforce previews for the groups which have reached the Frozen 4 this week in Pittsburgh.


Season file: 18-5-4 (13-5-4 Hockey East)

How they acquired to Pittsburgh: Defeated Lake Superior State 5-1, defeated Bemidji State 4-0 in East Regional

High gamers: Forwards Bobby Trivigno (10-21-31) and Carson Gicewicz (17-7-24), and defensemen Zac Jones (8-15-23) and Matt Kessel (9-12-21)

High goalie: Filip Lindberg (9-1-4, 1.33 GAA, .946 SV%)

Why they are going to win the nationwide championship: That is as full a workforce as UMass has ever had.

Certain, they reached a Frozen 4 two years in the past with model title gamers like Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro, however this workforce could be a deeper all-around membership. Their protection has turn out to be among the finest within the nation permitting simply 1.70 objectives per recreation (second behind Minnesota State). And in contrast to many different groups, they will match the depth and heavy play of the opposite three groups in Pittsburgh.

Why they won’t win the nationwide championship: The UMass offense has been cranking of late, notably within the regional. However ought to they meet a protection that slows them down like UMass Lowell did within the Hockey East title recreation, then the end result can turn out to be a bounce of the puck. This isn’t a workforce that may get blown out of a constructing (solely dangerous loss this season was a 6-3 defeat versus Boston School early within the season), but when the sport stays shut, you by no means know.

Two years in the past, when UMass reached the Frozen 4, and subsequently the nationwide title recreation, for the primary time in program historical past, coach Greg Carvel admits his workforce wasn’t totally ready for the second.

“[Two years ago], we performed in additional time till after midnight [in the semifinals] towards Denver,” Carvel stated. “The following day, the itinerary had us up and going. We have been a drained workforce going into that championship recreation.”

Carvel says that, not taking something on this 12 months’s semifinals without any consideration, if they’re able to transfer on he’s going to make restoration on the off day a precedence. That’s simply a part of what he feels is the optimistic expertise that he took from his workforce’s loss to Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

“I believe we’re all able to go in there with some expertise,” Carvel stated. “The final time it was all eyes vast open, go the place we have been informed. Now we now have the expertise of the way it goes, how it’s run and essential it’s that your gamers get the correct relaxation and preparation.

“The expertise, we expect will probably be very useful this time.”

The Minutemen can show that they’ve realized from the previous instantly as Thursday’s second semifinal pits UMass towards the identical workforce that ended their historic run two years in the past, Minnesota Duluth.

“Final time we performed Duluth, it wasn’t shut,” Carvel stated. “They shut the door on us; they beat us 3-0. I anticipate we’ll have an equally robust time.”

This workforce is significantly totally different from 2019. First off, they’re lacking perhaps the largest part, Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar in addition to one other standout blueliner, Mario Ferraro. However the defensive place is hardly empty and, if something, this membership is most stingy.

The backend is led by two proficient goaltenders, although Filip Lindberg has taken the reins of the membership for a lot of the final two months. After lacking video games with accidents early, permitting Matt Murray to hold the water between the pipes, Lindberg performed so effectively upon returning, Carvel couldn’t preserve him out of web.

“This summer time, [Filip] got here to me and stated, ‘I have to play extra,’” Carvel recalled. “I acquired offended and stated, ‘Be higher.’ I stated that to each of the goaltenders. Matt made it straightforward early within the 12 months; he gained seven video games in a row. The Filip got here again, and he’s gone 12 video games with out a loss.

“I informed him, ‘You wish to play each recreation, exit and get a .940 save share be beneath two objectives a recreation. That’s what he did, so now he performs each recreation.”

Carvel acknowledges that all the things isn’t constructed round goaltending. The backend for UMass has turn out to be elite at limiting probabilities. When the alternatives current, each the blueliners and a expertise crop of forwards can put the puck within the web.

“You don’t win in the event you’re not defensive hockey workforce,” stated Carvel. “It’s spectacular of the defensemen we now have. When you might have Zac Jones and Marc Del Gaizo and Aaron Bollinger, children who’re actually good offensive defensemen who’re dedicated to enjoying robust protection. Then you might have Matt Kessel and Colin Fields who’re huge, robust, arduous defensemen. However they’re all good two-way gamers.

“We’re not a brilliant expert workforce. The youngsters are simply dedicated to enjoying what I believe is the suitable manner. Limiting groups, irritating groups and being opportunistic. We don’t sit again. We play the sport arduous going ahead however arduous coming again. We’ve performed job down the stretch right here refining it.”


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