Posted: 09/28/2021 20:04:36 PM
AMHERST – The party is over.
The UMass hockey team celebrated winning their first national championship all summer, parading the trophy around area baseball fields and savoring the support of the community.
Captain Boby Trivigno and coach Greg Carvel both pitched the first shots before the Red Sox games. Carvel spoke at the start of UMass. All that remains is to raise the flags on Saturday against Minnesota State. As these preparations are underway, the Minutemen have focused on the next one.
âThe glitz and glamor is great, but our success is built on our work ethic,â said UMass Senior Assistant Captain Colin Felix. “Everyone calls us champions, but obviously the school is also champions and it’s nice to see the school kind of embrace that and kiss us.”
Even amid the summer revelry, the Minutemen were also on campus to train and adapt to new faces. Of the 27 players (28 if you include emergency goalie Zac Steigmeyer from the Frozen Four opener) who won the title last year, 16 return, including starting goalie Matt Murray, leading scorer Trivigno and American defender Matthew Kessel.
Trivigno is the captain after a year as an assistant last year, and Kessel and Felix will be the assistant captains.
âIt’s really heartwarming for me to have Bobby Trivigno, Colin and Felix. They’ve won a lot of hockey games here and they’ve built this culture. They are very protective and proud of it, so they are as invested in it as I am, âsaid Carvel. âVery good leadership is always of the utmost importance to have a good year. This is the year our captains are our best players, I don’t know if we’ve had that before.
The UMass management group helped onboard nine new players. This includes three transfers and six first-year students integrated from the top to the bottom of the training. First-year defensemen Scott Morrow and Ryan Ufko and forward Taylor Makar were drafted in July. The Minutemen will also benefit from two Ivy League transfers that were unable to play last year (Cam Donaldson of Cornell and Matt Baker of Dartmouth) and a former Frozen Four nemesis in Denver, transfer Slava Demin.
âThese guys have been super malleable and listen to us a lot, ask a lot of questions, they go out a lot for extra work,â said Felix. “You can tell they’re here to get better and catch up and take care of the older guys a lot and they put a lot on the table for us to learn from them and from us.”
The leadership group wants to include newcomers in continued success, not alienate them from past victories.
âYou don’t want to put off the success that we have. You want to embrace it and you want to let everyone know, and let everyone know that the standard we’re playing is and that’s how we have to play to win, âsaid Felix. “Obviously we’ve got a bit of a target on the back right now, and the teams are going to come in every weekend looking to play that hard, and we have to be prepared.”
In addition to being the reigning national champions, the Minutemen are the No.1 team in both national polls and were voted No.1 in the Hockey East Coaching Poll. It’s a familiar pressure for a program that has been built from the basement of the conference to a team that has played in back-to-back national championship games for the past three years.
“One of our goals this year is not just to start over, but to widen the gap, to keep improving everywhere,” said Kessel.
UMass wants to avoid complacency above all. Just because the Minutemen went there doesn’t mean they’ll stay there.
âIt was nice to celebrate a bit this summer, but I think we’ve got past that now,â Trivigno said. “We are really hungry for the next one.”
Kyle Grabowski can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.