BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — For a man whose team advanced to an NCAA regional championship game with a 5-1 win, UMass coach Greg Carvel gave a frank, negative assessment of the Minutemen’s performance.
“In a grinding game, there were a lot of odd-man rushes and that is not good,” said Carvel of the win over Lake Superior State. “We’ll take them, but we’re not supposed to give them. I didn’t like that fact. I thought we had the game backwards. When we had the puck we were slow. When we didn’t have the puck, we were checking aggressively and we needed to flip that.
“I thought we were better in the third, but for two periods, I wasn’t overly happy with the way were playing and again. We were off tonight.”
After the first period ended in a 1-1 tie, the Minutemen scored twice at even strength less than two minutes apart in the second period and added both a power-play tally and the empty-net goal in the third. Even after outshooting Lake Superior State 18-12 in the second and coming away with a two-goal lead, Carvel said he let his team know how he felt about their play in the second intermission.
“I didn’t say anything,” said Carvel. “I yelled it. I was not happy after two periods. I think we were ahead 3-1 but we were sloppy. We gave up many odd-man situations.”
Carvel was especially unhappy with the number of penalties UMass took, including interference and hooking penalties in the third period.
“We took interference penalties because we cheated the game,” said Carvel. “When you cheat the game, that’s what happens. We didn’t take five penalties in three [Hockey East] playoff games. We did certain things well and the kids compete hard and they scored from in front of the net, which was key to the game, but we’re not going to win more games at this level at this time of the year playing like we did tonight.”
Jake Gaudet let the Minutemen with two goals tonight, the first at 10:07 in the first to give UMass the early 1-0 lead and the second on the power play at 10:49 in the third. They were the senior captain’s fourth and fifth goals of the season, and Carvel had something to say about that as well, referencing junior Bobby Trivigno’s team-leading 10 goals.
“Trivigno can’t carry us every single game,” said Carvel. “We need other guys to step up and Gaudet’s got three goals in the last two games and the way he should be scoring, around the net, owning space, being a big player. Happy for him. We needed that. I didn’t think we had a lot of guys going tonight and he was, luckily.”
Josh Lopina and Carson Gicewicz had the second-period goals for the Minutemen and Anthony Del Gaizo found the empty net with 4:13 remaining in regulation, when the Lakers had pulled goaltender Mareks Mitens early for the extra attacker.
Junior Ashton Calder had the lone goal for Lake Superior State at 17:14 in the first period. Both goaltenders worked this one. Mitens made 32 saves on the 36 shots that he faced. For Massachusetts, Filip Lindberg allowed one goal on 31 shots.
“I’ve not given Filip Lindberg lot of credit down the stretch, but he deserves it all tonight,” said Carvel. “He was outstanding when we were not great.”
This is the second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for the Minutemen, who lost the national championship game to Minnesota Duluth in 2019. The Lakers, though, are a different story. The last time Lake Superior State played an NCAA tournament game was in 1996.
“It won’t be 25 years before you see us again,” said LSSU coach Damon Whitten. “We’ll be back.”
The Lakers captured the WCHA playoff championship title and finish the season with a record of 19-7-3.
“You can’t take the sting out,” said Whitten. “It hurts. We came in expecting to win a game, win a couple of games and move on. We’re champions. We’ve restored a lot of pride in the program with what we’ve done.”
The Minutemen (15-5-4) advance to play Bemidji State (16-9-3) in the East Regional championship game Saturday. The No. 4 seed Beavers upset No. 1 Wisconsin 6-3 in the first semifinal game.