Amherst, MA — Thursday, February 28th, 2019, marked a significant moment in the season for the Massachusetts Minutemen: They defeated the Merrimack College Warriors to claim the first Hockey East Regular Season trophy in program history. The team celebrated and reveled in their program’s best season to date. With the top seed locked up, Saturday’s game against the Maine Black Bears could’ve been a letdown. Instead, UMass rewarded their home fans with a dominating display.
“Obviously, Thursday night was a big deal,” commented defenseman Mario Ferraro. “It was our goal; to be regular season champs. But that’s not the only goal. So once we accomplished that, we changed our goal. And now it’s to win a championship. Every game counts and it’s important we play playoff style hockey.”
Between the first two periods, UMass won the shots total 33-10, including an unbelievable 19-3 in the second period. Oliver Chau started the scoring with a solo break and backhand dangle around Jeremy Swayman 7:55 into the game. Mario Ferraro and Mitchell Chaffee combined for a perfect two-man rush to pot the second goal in the waning minutes of the first.
The second period was a four goal bonanza for the Minutemen, as Anthony Del Gaizo, Ty Farmer, and Jake Gaudet added their names to the goal tally and Oliver Chau notched his first multi-goal game of the season and second of his career. 13 different players contributed points to the effort.
The outburst chased Bruins draft pick Jeremy Swayman in the second intermission. The Anchorage, AK, native allowed six goals on 33 shots faced.
UMass tried for the extra point in the final period, outshooting Maine 12-6 in the final frame. Rob McGovern replaced Swayman and performed admirably in net, stopping all 12 Minuteman tries on him.
The 6-0 victory gave way to a touching Senior Day celebration to honor the three eldest Minutemen: Jacob Pritchard, Brett Boeing, and Kurt Keats. Keats is the only remaining senior who played for UMass’s prior coaching staff. Pritchard transfered from St. Lawrence and Boeing transfered from Michigan Tech.
Maine drops to 14-15-4 and 10-9-4 in HEA. They stay at sixth place in the conference standings, one point ahead of Boston College and three points behind Boston University.
The Black Bears will face BU to conclude their regular season on Saturday night. Puck drops at 7:30 pm ET at Alfond Arena in Orono.
UMass improves to 26-7-0 and 18-5-0 in HEA. They will face either Boston College or New Hampshire in the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs.
Filip Lindberg got the start in net and recorded 16 saves for his first collegiate shutout
Greg Carvel was mostly positive after the game, except regarding the 1-6 Power Play.
“I think we pushed the right buttons, cause the guys came out great,” Carvel said. “I thought they controlled the entire 60 minutes as well as they had all season. Shot differential was quite extreme. That was as complete a victory as we’ve had all year. Our power play was junk and that’s the only part of the night I wasn’t happy with.”
The Minutemen visit UConn at the XL Center on Friday night to conclude the regular season. Puck drops at 7:05 pm ET against the Huskies in Hartford.