BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Led by a two-goal night from senior captain Jake Gaudet, #6/5 University of Massachusetts hockey advanced past #13 Lake Superior State, 5-1, in the teams' NCAA Tournament First Round matchup at Webster Bank Arena Friday evening. With the win, the Minutemen stretch their unbeaten streak to 11 straight games and improve to 17-5-4, while the Lakers finish the season at 19-7-3.
"We knew it was going to be a grinding type of game, and that proved to be the difference," said head coach Greg Carvel. "We scored around the net, we scored early in the game which set the tone. I thought that when we managed the puck well, we played well. But I thought we were pretty casual with the puck too often tonight. Mentally, we were not as sharp as we usually are. We took five penalties-I don't know if we took five penalties all through the Hockey East Playoffs. To me, that was indicative that we weren't quite where we needed to be. We'll need to be better tomorrow night against a team that had a big win earlier today."
Gaudet opened the scoring at the10:07 mark of the first period, knocking the puck home at the top of the crease off a feed from sophomores Jerry Harding and Zac Jones to give UMass a 1-0 advantage.
Lake Superior State then managed to tie things up before the first intermission. On a rush up the ice, Ashton Calder drove to the net and chipped the puck over goaltender Filip Lindberg, 17:14 into the period with Pete Veillette and Jacob Nordqvist picking up the assists.
Midway through the second period, though, junior Bobby Trivigno drove to the net out of the corner. While Trivigno's attempt at goal was denied, freshman Josh Lopina was there in the slot to corral the loose puck for his ninth tally of the season at the 11:03 mark.
UMass added another less than two minutes later as Carson Gicewicz finished off a feed from junior Ty Farmer and senior Oliver Chau on an odd-man rush, 13 minutes into the period, that brought the score to 3-1.
Gaudet gave the Minutemen a big insurance goal on a 5-on-3 power play, 10:09 into the third, to give the squad a three-goal cushion. The senior redirected in a pass from Chau and Jones at the net front for his second of the night and fourth of the season, his second multi-goal game of his career.
UMass then capped the scoring with an empty net goal from Anthony Del Gaizo at 15:47 for his first of the season as Jones lofted a pass out of the Minutemen's defensive zone to hit Del Gaizo in stride after he exited the penalty box.
Jones finished the contest with three helpers, tying a career single-game high. He now has six points across UMass' four postseason games. Chau contributed a pair of assists for his 20th career multi-point game.
The Minutemen out-shot the Lakers, 37-31 on the evening and went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Lake Superior State was 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
Lindberg made 30 stops in the win to improve to 8-1-4 on the season. His counterpart, Mareks Mitens had 32 saves in the loss and ends the year at 14-6-3.
UMass will next face Bemidji State in the Bridgeport Regional Final on Saturday, March 27, at 5 p.m. on ESPU. The winner of that contest will advance to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, Pa., April 8-10.