Seeing Maroon: Marc Del Gaizo makes Minutemen go

Published: 3/1/2021 5:45:45 PM

Great teams rely on their best players to show up in big time moments, and for the UMass hockey team that player has been Marc Del Gaizo.

It didn’t matter that the junior hadn’t put one in the back of the net all season long. It didn’t matter that he had scored just four goals since his game-winner in overtime of the Frozen Four that sent the Minutemen to the national championship game two seasons ago. When his team needed him most, Del Gaizo answered the bell.

Taking on No. 1 Boston College on Friday, UMass rallied from a two-goal deficit to force overtime behind goals from Bobby Trivigno and Carson Gicewicz.

Overtime periods hadn’t been the kindest to the Minutemen this season. Tthe previous three ended up going to a shootout, but Del Gaizo made sure that wouldn’t be the case.

With 3:01 left in the OT period, the junior got loose on a breakaway and was tripped up right in front of BC goalie Spencer Knight. The puck slid between Knight’s legs into the goal to lead UMass to its best win of the season, a comeback victory on the road against the top team in the country.

When the game was on the line, Del Gaizo came through for the Minutemen with the biggest play of the season thus far, picking a hell of a time to come up with his first score of the season.

“He hasn’t had any goals, but he’s one of our best — if not our best — players,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said after the game. “That’s great for him, he’s very deserving. He’s outstanding every night.”

Carvel has had an unwavering belief in Del Gaizo all season despite his lack of scoring.

Just look at what he said when he was asked about him not scoring a goal yet on Jan. 14, which shows you just what Carvel thinks of his top defenseman.

“I think even without scoring a goal, he’s our most important player,” Carvel said back in January. “I just answered a question about how many guys make that big of a difference on a team and Marc does that for us. If you took any one player out of our lineup I don’t know if it has the effect that taking Marc out would. I’m not worried about [him not scoring yet]. If a kid’s playing well, the goals will come and I think he’s playing superbly.”

Carvel also mentioned that day that Del Gaizo was sorely missed when they took on the Eagles earlier in the season, a weekend series where BC swept UMass.

Clearly Carvel was right, as Del Gaizo’s presence was a huge part of the Minutemen turning the tides the third time around.

If there were any questions about how the Minutemen would look coming out of the two-week break, they more than answered them this past week.

Not only did they take down the Eagles, they opened the week by throttling Providence on the road Tuesday, 8-1, in their first game back from the shutdown. And if you’re wondering, Providence isn’t some Hockey East bottom-feeder, instead the No. 16 team in the nation going into that game.

The two wins this past week have helped UMass position itself to potentially get a top-two seed in the Hockey East tournament, which entails a pair of home games. Currently, the Hockey East Power Index (HEPI) — a system used to rate teams this season as teams are playing different numbers of games — has the Minutemen third with a 56.34 HEPI rating, just behind BC (58.32) and behind Boston University (56.34) by a razor thin margin.

How they come up with these numbers is beyond my understanding, but with the momentum gained from topping the No. 1 team in the country on the road, UMass is riding high into the Hockey East tournament. The final week of regular season games are yet to be announced, but the two impressive wins last week should have done more than enough to secure the Minutemen an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

■ By the time you’re reading this (in print), we’ll know if the UMass men’s basketball team was able to pull off an upset win on the road against Saint Louis and secure the coveted double-bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament taking place later this week.

Whether they get it or not, the Minutemen have shown this season they have the talent to compete with the conference’s best, though thus far they’ve been unable to have that one big victory against one of the teams sitting atop the conference standings.

Whether it’s Monday night or sometime later in the week during the tournament, a young UMass team will have to string together a complete 40-minute effort if they want to make an unexpected run.

Thomas Johnston is a sports reporter for the Recorder and a UMass alum. He can be reached at tjohnston@recorder.com.




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