Bridgeport, CT – The Massachusetts Minutemen ended the Lake Superior State Lakers cinderella season 5-1. The past met the future in the second game of the NCAA East Regional in Bridgeport. The last time Lake Superior was in the NCAA tournament, 1996, the Minutemen were only three seasons into their re-birth as a program. While UMass was dormant, the Lakers were three-time NCAA Champs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the time gone by, the Minutemen have been one of the top programs in the nation.
The opening period was a physical, heavy, feeling each other out kind of period. The two teams traded penalties and goals.
UMass struck first when senior Jake Gaudet continued his scoring ways when he slammed home a Jerry Harding pass at the top of the crease.
A Holding penalty was assessed to Lake Superior’s Benito Posa during the play. So the Minutemen would go on the man-advantage. However, a Hooking call on Minuteman forward Garret Wait led to four-on-four action.
Ashton Calder tied the game for Lake St. at 17:14 when he banged in a rebound on a two-on-one chance with Pete Veillette. Calder has four goals in his last seven games, including a Hat-Trick in the WCHA Championship game last Saturday.
In the second period, the Minutemen pulled away from the Lakers. UMass outshot Lake St. 16-7 for the period and netted two goals.
The first came at 11:02 when freshman Josh Lopina banged in a Bobby Trivigno feed in front of the Lakers net.
Two minutes later, Carson Gicewicz slid a Ty Farmer pass past underneath a sprawling Marek Mitens (32 saves) as he went side to side to make the save attempt.
Gaudet added his second of the game on the power-play at 10:49 of the third. Oliver Chau and Zac Jones assisted on the goal, another tap in on the Lake St. doorstep.
Massachusett junior Anthony Del Gaizo put a bow on this one at 15:47 when he raced after a clearing attempt to knock in the puck, making it 5-1 Minutemen. Del Gaizo had just finished serving a Hooking penalty. While doing so, the Lakers pulled Mitens to try to claw one back.
The Minutemen’s win sets up a date tomorrow at 5:00 pm against Bemidji State with a trip to Pittsburgh and the Frozen Four on the line.
“We’re playing for our careers here, our four years, here,” said Gaudet afterward. “We don’t want this season to end. I’m just doing everything I can to keep it going.”
“We felt that was going to be the difference in the game,” said Massachusetts coach Greg Carvel. “They (Lake Superior) have a big defensive core, playing on a smaller sheet than we have, the last couple of weeks. We knew it was going to be a grinding game.”
“Greg and his staff have done a great job all this year building that program,” said Lakers coach Damon Whitten. “They were in the National Championship game before the pandemic, the last time it was held. So that showed a little bit. Their experience in this environment helped them come out a little bit stronger. We had to respond, and then you end up chasing the game.”