Saturday’s NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship game had all the makings of an excellent match-up between two teams who had never won a national championship. There was a lot on the line, but rather than a high-flying close affair, the UMass-Amherst Minutemen dominated the game from start to finish. With a decisive 5-0 victory, the Minutemen proved to be the best team in College Hockey this season and took home a national championship.
UMass Dominance Throughout
UMass came to play, and it was evident immediately through their relentless forecheck. They were clearly the quicker team and utilized their speed to keep St. Cloud on the defensive. With three quick, puck-moving defenders, UMass was able to control the pace of the game and move the puck up the ice quickly. St. Cloud’s scoring chances were predominately shots taken off the rush and were low-danger areas.
Bobby Trivigno, the tournament’s top player, stated post-game, “We have a really deep team. Our D did a great job tonight. It was a group effort in the D zone, and it takes a lot to shut out a team. I think we earned it. They did an amazing job…” Between the speed of UMass’ top-four defense, their relentless forecheck early on, and their ability to keep St. Cloud shooters to the outside, the Minutemen played an almost perfect game to win their first-ever championship.
Though Outperformed, St.Cloud Makes History
St. Cloud looked overwhelmed from the beginning in the national title game, but as a program they made history. For the first time ever, St. Cloud was able to make it to a national championship, a tremendous achievement for a rather small school for NCAA standards. “The number one thing we told them was we were really proud of them and we love them. They’re a great group of guys. They’ve stuck through a lot this year. And they don’t want to hear it right now. Nothing you really say, I guess, sinks in. But to think about what they did and to go farther than any team in our program’s history and just to get to this game in a year when not many people expected it, other than the guys in that room.”
With many returning players, St. Cloud is poised to be competitive again next year.
- The end of the NCAA means many players are eligible to sign NHL contracts. The most likely candidates to do so are UMass goalie Filip Lindberg (Minnesota), Bobby Trivigno (Undrafted Free Agent), and Marc Del Gaizo (Nashville). On the St. Cloud side, goalie David Hrenak (Los Angeles Kings) could sign an AHL contract, and it’s likely Tampa Bay pick Nick Perbix could be offered a contract as well.
- Cole Caufield won the Hobey Baker Award as College Hockey’s top player. He celebrated by scoring three goals in two games for Laval in the AHL. It won’t be long before we see him in an NHL uniform.