Game Recaps

Back-to-back champions: UMass secures the Hockey East title

It was championship night at TD Garden on Saturday as the UMass Amherst Minutemen (22-12-2, 14-8-2 HE) and University of Connecticut Huskies (20-16-0, 14-10-0 HE) fought for the 2022 Hockey East title. In an overtime thriller, UMass came away with the 2-1 victory. 

“When I got to UMass, things weren’t in a good place –– and six years later, this is where we’re at,” Head Coach Greg Carvel said in the postgame press conference. “I’ve been very proud of many, many things here over six years. Maybe repeating the Hockey East championship might be number one.” 

The Minutemen successfully completed their quest for back-to-back championships after their 3-1 defeat of Lowell in the semis. The Huskies, on the other hand, were skating for their program’s first ever Hockey East championship after topping Northeastern 4-1 in their semifinal game. 

Although UConn came up short of the ultimate goal, the team’s Hockey East tenure has been relatively short for the successes they’ve had in the past couple of years. Finishing in second and hitting their first 20 win season this year, Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh was optimistic about the program’s progress. 

“The league’s 37 years old and we’re eight years in and for the last three years we’ve finished in the top five of the league,” Cavanaugh said. “I think that says something about consistency and where the program’s going.” 

UMass had jump to start the first period, leaning on their big-game experience as the reigning Hockey East champs. They were well represented in the fan section and gave the Minutemen faithful something to cheer about as they set the tone in the opening minutes. 

With not much space on the ice, UMass got some of their better opportunities on the first man-advantage of the night at 11:16. Freshman forward and Detroit Red Wings pick Chase Bradley was sent to the sin bin for interference, but his team backed him up on the penalty kill. 

Gaining momentum from a gritty PK, the Huskies had a bundle of promising looks on graduate student netminder Matt Murray. They raised their compete level and kept UMass on their toes as the period progressed.

Sophomore forward Nick Capone, graduate student defenseman Jarrod Gourley and Bradley led the physicality for UConn, making their presence known on the boards and in all four corners. UMass countered and ended the period with the upper hand in SOG up 10-3. 

The Huskies got the advantage where it really matters in the beginning of the middle frame. For the third consecutive playoff game, junior forward Vladislav Firstov opened scoring for his group with a redirect tip in front off a blast from sophomore defenseman John Spetz at 2:25. 

The future Minnesota Wild’s 12th goal of the season gave UConn an important boost against a Minutemen team that was swarming earlier in the night. It would prove to not be enough to push the Huskies to their first title, but Coach Cavanaugh could still appreciate the journey. 

In perhaps one of the better quotes I’ve heard in a postgame press conference, Cavanaugh spoke to the ride his Husky team has been on in their 2021-2022 campaign and the importance of the senior class that skated off the ice in a UConn uniform for the last time that night. 

“There’s so many things in life I think that they’re gonna realize that you have to bargain and barter for whether it’s when you buy a house, buy a car, a mortgage,” Cavanaugh said. “I think the precious things in life are the non-transactional things –– you can’t put a price on the experience those ten guys just had this season.” 

Just over halfway through the period, Gourley took a rocket of a slap shot from UMass junior defenseman Matthew Kessel right to the back of his head, the puck bouncing off his helmet. A hard sequence of events to watch for the bench and spectators alike, Gourley went down immediately and was helped off the ice to the locker room. 

Captain and senior forward Bobby Trivigno knotted the competition at one a piece off a breakaway snapshot that went five hole on UConn netminder Darion Hanson with 3:53 left on the clock. With the crowd now ignited, the two teams went into the third each looking for the lead. 

The last 20 minutes of regulation saw high energy back-and-forth play –– both teams carried great attention to detail and discipline. As the minutes dwindled down, it was clear it was a next-goal-wins situation and that was cemented as the Huskies and Minutemen soon headed to overtime. 

Just 3:06 into overtime, the puck popped out from a battle in the corner and made it to the stick of Aaron Bohlinger who was stationed in the middle just below the blue line. The quick zinger from sophomore defenseman beat Hanson to secure the big W for UMass in what was a highly competitive battle all night. 

“He told me after the game he only scores in championship games,” Carvel said of Bohlinger. “He has two career goals and they’re both game-winning-goals in the championship game.”  

Following the celebrations, Trivigno collected the Hockey East tournament MVP for the second year in a row –– a wildly deserved honor for the heart-and-soul captain. He went to UMass to prove himself and has gone above and beyond people’s previous expectations. 

“My development here and success at UMass is a large part to my teammates and coaches,” Trivigno said. “They took a chance on me when no one else was going to and coming here was the best decision of my life, I wouldn’t want it any other way.” 

Carvel spoke highly of the forward’s character and grit in the postgame, saying Trivigno’s the “most unique kid” he has ever coached. 

“He never gets tired, he never has a bad attitude, he never gets out-willed,” Carvel said. “Every single day he’s the hardest working kid. He has a fire inside him, unmatched.” 

With the Hockey East chip under their belts, Trivigno will lead the Minutemen into the NCAA tournament where they took it all home last season. The group simply knows how to win and flip the switch on their compete level to get things done. 

We’ll have coverage on the blog, Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram of the national tournament as some buzzing Hockey East teams try to make their mark on the big stage. 


  1. Happy that the tournament has started. Unhappy we’re not a participant, but happy nonetheless.

    In case anyone is interested, Sean Pickett – unofficial BU Hockey historian who has so many recorded great games from BU’s history online, created a survey RE: the program and coaching if anyone wants to fill it out:


  2. thanks Mike, i filled it out
    these games give me an insight of what makes up good teams

  3. Vinnie,

    I hope you can see that all these teams have a better
    Head Coach