Bridgeport Regional Notebook: UMass hockey relished playing in front of fans

  • UMass forwards Oliver Chau and Carson Gicewicz faced a physical game against Lake Superior State in the NCAA Tournament on Friday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. There were 10 penalties in the game and a collision with the Lakers goalie. THOM KENDALL/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/26/2021 10:04:59 PM
Modified: 3/26/2021 10:04:57 PM

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Colin Felix’s helmet popped off after a collision late in the second period.

As the UMass senior skated back to the bench and replaced it, he heard an unfamiliar sound – at least unfamiliar this season: applause. The hit happened near the boards right in front of UMass’ fan section. The Minutemen were each given two tickets for close friends and family to Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener against Lake Superior State at the Webster Bank Arena.

It was the first time they’d played in front of a crowd all season.

“It was awesome. As players you don’t notice that stuff (during the game). It was great to see my parents and a couple friends in the stands,” UMass senior Carson Gicewicz said. “After the game I got to salute them. That was important to me and some other players. They’re the reason why we’re here, and it was awesome they got to come.”

Felix’s parents drove a little over three hours from their home in New Jersey.

“I haven’t seen him in months, so it’s been tough. Thank goodness for FaceTime,” Colin’s mother Kim Felix said. “We were thankful it was here.”

The Minutemen were placed in the East Regional, one of two in the northeast along with the Northeast Regional held in Albany, N.Y. The others were hosted in Loveland, Colo., and Fargo, N.D. 

UMass has made live video streams of every game this season available for those outside the NESN footprint, and the Minutemen often played on TV.

“I thought they did a pretty good job with viewing the games on TV. It wasn’t that bad,” said Bob Trivigno, junior forward Bobby Trivigno’s father. “I’m happy I get to see him, but the TV really wasn’t a burden for us.”

Even though their loved ones were allowed in the arena, the glass boards still kept them separate.

“It was quite a tease. I couldn’t hardly make out my family. It was great to have them, but I wish we could interact with them,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I’m more happy for the parents to get to watch their sons play.”

BEAVERS ADVANCE COMFORTABLY – Senior captain Ethan Somoza scored two goals and added an assist, as fourth-seeded Bemidji State took down No. 1 Wisconsin 6-3 on Friday afternoon.

The Beavers opened the scoring 6 minutes, 33 seconds in when Ross Armour tapped in a Elias Rosen feed. Then Rosen made it 2-0 in the final 15 seconds of the period.

“The first goal was big, and that second goal was obviously even bigger. When you have a cushion they have to play catch up hockey,” Bemidji coach Tom Serratore said.

Wisconsin went on the power play early in the second period, putting the Badgers vaunted man up attack (converting a nation-leading 31.5 percent) against the Beavers top-rated penalty kill (93.3 percent). It shifted into a 5-on-3 after a second Bemidji penalty, and Linus Weissbach cut the lead to 2-1 from Cole Caufield.

Bemidji killed the second penalty, and the Beavers scored the next three goals to take a 5-1 lead into the third, one short-handed.

“We’ve been really good with the lead the entire year. We like playing with the lead, and we did it well tonight,” Somoza said.

Caufield, the likely Hobey Baker winner leading the nation in scoring, put two goals away – one on the power play – in the third to cut the deficit to two goals with 5:04 remaining.

“Our team doesn’t know what the word quit means,” Wisconsin coach Tony Granato said. “We left it all out on the ice there, but we dug ourselves too deep a hole.”

A slashing penalty put Bemidji state a man down for the game’s final 1:37, and the Beavers added another short-handed goal as time expired to match their season-high scoring output. 

“We kind of willed that last minute or so,” Serratore said.

Brendan Harris finished with three points for Bemidji with two assists, and Zach Driscoll saved 30 shots.

It was the Beavers’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2009, their first victory over Wisconsin (0-6-1 previously) and the first WCHA NCAA win since 2016.

Bemidji State will face No. 2 UMass in the regional final at 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.

TOO MANY PENALTIES – UMass committed five penalties against Lake Superior State in the second game. That’s as many as the Minutemen had in three Hockey East tournament games.

Two were interference penalties, two were hooking and senior Jake Gaudet was whistled for goalie interference.

“It wasn’t a physical thing. We took interference penalties because we cheated the game,” Carvel said. “We didn’t play as well defensively as we should have.”

The Minutemen didn’t give up a power play goal despite spending so much time in the penalty box.

“A lot of it’s hard work. Usually the team that works hard is going to have more power plays than they do penalties. We didn’t work our hardest,” Gicewicz said. “We’re not a team that takes a lot of penalties. That’s not who we are and not what we do.”

REGIONAL REIGN CONTINUES – The Minutemen remain undefeated in NCAA regional play under Greg Carvel. The Minutemen went 2-0 in Manchester, N.H., in 2019 and outscored their opponents 4-0.

UMass is now 4-1 overall in its three trips to NCAA regionals.

ICE ICE BABY – Warm weather outside in Connecticut made for a challenging ice surface. Multiple Minutemen lost edges, and one slip led to a Lakers brekaway.

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