AMHERST — After 80 minutes of hockey, everyone knew the game-winner wasn’t going to be pretty.
UMass and New Hampshire were deadlocked after three periods and Mike Robinson ensured the Minutemen didn’t win the game in the first overtime period. But when a team puts 53 shots on goal, it’s bound to create its own fortuitous bounces.
That was the case for the top-seeded Minutemen against the eighth-seeded Wildcats on Friday night in the first game of the Hockey East quarterfinals. Ty Farmer’s shot ricocheted off the skate of the New Hampshire defender into Mitchell Chaffee’s path and the sophomore batted it over Robinson 5:52 into the second overtime to lift UMass to a 5-4 win at the Mullins Center.
“Ty had a good shot and I kind of found my way for a tip,” Chaffee said. “Luckily it went through, I didn’t see it go in at first. As soon as I saw it go in, I was of course pretty happy about (winning) a long game, especially after last year, losing to Vermont in overtime. It’s a huge win to take this one.”
The goal was the result of the “pounding the rock” philosophy that the Minutemen (27-8-0) have utilized for most of the season. They were the dominant team for most of the game, including almost the entirety of the first period, third period and the two overtime sessions. They racked up a 53-28 advantage in shots on goal and had 27 other attempts blocked by the New Hampshire defense.
Yet, it was the Wildcats (12-14-9) who took the early lead and ran with it in the second period. New Hampshire scored twice in the first two minutes of the middle stanza and then extended the lead to three goals with 12:30 left, all of which came off poor neutral zone play from UMass. The third goal was the last shot Matt Murray faced in goal as he was replaced by freshman Filip Lindberg, who stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced in relief.
“We knew were playing well, but we were making mistakes that just can’t happen and that’s how we get down three goals,” Chaffee said. “We have a good group here and we know we can come back. We’ve done it before, we know what we need to do and we just need to stick to that.”
Like last week at Connecticut, Bobby Trivigno gave UMass some juice late in the second period. The freshman skated toward the front of the goal as Jacob Pritchard threw a pass in front and the puck caromed off his skate with 54.5 seconds left in the second.
After the puck went in, Trivigno rushed the glass on the far side and pounded it with both fists in celebration, the most energy he’s showcased after one of his 11 goals this season.
“It was just getting the first one,” Trivigno said. “Honestly, I did nothing there, it just hit off me. It just felt really good to get the boys going.”
Pritchard and Trivigno were the spark plugs for the UMass offense for most of the night and each had a hand in the Minutemen’s first three goals. UMass’ second goal came just 1:08 into the third when Trivigno sent a cross-crease pass that glanced off a skate to Pritchard for the tap in on the far post. The two connected for a third time a little less than seven minutes later when Pritchard’s pass from behind the goal hit a charging Trivigno in stride and the freshman slid the puck between Robinson’s pads to cut the deficit back down to one.
Coach Greg Carvel shook up his lines for the first playoff game, moving Trivigno up to the second line along with Pritchard and Philip Lagunov in place of Amherst native John Leonard. The third-year coach said it wasn’t a surprise that Trivigno’s presence made the trio more potent in the offensive zone.
“We talk a lot about Cale Makar and a lot of other guys on our team, he’s probably our most important player,” Carvel said of Trivigno. “Every line he goes to, that line scores all the goals and gets all the chances. He’s the best forward on our team, he’s outstanding, if I had 20 of them, we wouldn’t lose too many games. We’d be the shortest team in the history of college hockey, but we wouldn’t lose too many games. He’s outstanding, he’s the real deal, he’s the gutsiest kid, he plays his hard out, he’s smart, skilled, he’s a heck of a hockey player.”