The Hockey East title match is set.
The No. 3 Massachusetts Minutemen defeated the No. 5 Providence Friars on Wednesday night, 5-2, to earn themselves a championship berth for the first time since 2004.
And they’ll get to host the final at the Mullins Center in Amherst, too, against their only NCAA Division I sister school on Saturday. The No. 7 UMass Lowell River Hawks await, setting up the first Hockey East championship between the two schools.
George Mica, Zac Jones, Josh Lopina, Bobby Trivingo and Marc Del Gaizo scored for the Minutemen. Trivingo (2), Matthew Kessel (2), Del Gaizo, Jones and Colin Felix all recorded assists.
Brett Berard and Parker Ford netted goals for Providence. Ben Mirageas, Nick Poisson, Michael Callahan and Tyce Thompson had assists.
Jaxson Stauber made 22 saves on 28 shots on net for the Friars while Filip Lindberg made 20 stops on 22 shots for the Minutemen.
Here’s how it all went down:
The Mullins Center in Amherst may not have been packed with students, but the Minutemen brought the energy anyway, scoring just 52 seconds into the contest.
Lopina, Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Year, buried one early. And after a lengthy review, the goal counted.
But UMass didn’t follow up that strong first minute, and with exactly six minutes left in the period, Providence tied things up with a wrap-around goal from Brett Berard.
Shortly after, a penalty was called on Aaron Bohlinger. The Friars were able to capitalize on the first power play of the night with a rocket shot from Ford right by Lindberg.
But if you liked Providence’s response to giving up the first-minute goal, UMass’ did the same.
With 8:14 to go in the first period, the score was tied up yet again. Fro the blue line, Kessell set up fellow defenseman Jones for his eighth of the year.
With just three minutes left in the stanza, a Friars goal was waived off by a high stick.
By the end of the first, Providence outshot UMass 18-13, but the two teams entered the break knotted up at 2-2.
THERE’S A REASON THEY CALL THEM THE MINUTEMEN
UMass started the second off similarly to the first: with an early goal.
Just over a minute in, Trivingo made it a 3-2 game for the Minutemen advantage.
The second period was much less eventful, though, with not a single power play attempt. UMass had the advantage with shots on net, 15-5, and Stauber was forced to make eight stops in net for Providence.
UMass poured the shots on net through the first 10 minutes or so in the final period of regulation.
It was their 10th that went in after Del Gaizo and Feliz assisted Mika to double the Minutemen’s lead over the Friars.
The empty netter fromDel Gaizo sealed the deal to send UMass off to the title game for the first time since 2004.
UMass ultimately outshot Providence 41-35.
The River Hawks await. The Minutemen will host their sister school in the Men?s Hockey East final at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.