How four seniors built UMass hockey from scratch – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

For the past four years, Colin Felix, Ty Farmer, Anthony Del Gaizo and Bobby Trivigno have been on the field every day, prepared to prove that everyone makes mistakes who doubted their abilities and passed them by during the recruitment process. They gave everything and were at the forefront of building the Massachusetts hockey team into a national powerhouse.

“We put it all out there every four years,” Del Gaizo said. “I think we can see ourselves in the mirror, and like, we gave our all every minute for four years. Coaches hold us accountable 365 days a year, and we take pride in that.”

Head coach Greg Carvel began his head coaching period at UMass in 2016, and during his first year, the team lost 29 games. While Minutemen still improved from the previous year, it was difficult to get top recruits to join the program. However, high-profile names were not what Carvel was looking for.

“How do you get a kid to come to a program that lost 29 games?” said Carvel. “You get a kid who wants to prove everyone’s wrong, and that’s what we did.”

Programs out in the west like Michigan and Minnesota attract many first-round picks, but that did not mean much to Carvel because UMass’ resume at the time would not earn many first-round recruits anyway.

Although it was not an easy task, Carvel enjoyed the recruitment process after a strange season because he got the kind of players he wanted in Felix, Del Gaizo, Farmer and Trivigno. It was men who flew under the radar but who were willing to do hard work and eventually shone under Carvel.

With a big cut on his face and a broken finger from the previous match, Felix skated over on the bench during the match against UMass Lowell in the semifinals of the Hockey East tournament and itched after returning to the ice. Few people would have been able to tell that he was playing through pain because he embraced it and never let his game get smaller.

“That’s why you win; kids like it, “said head coach Greg Carvel.”[Felix] has been an absolute warrior for us. He has been like that for four years. ”

Del Gaizo had a quiet freshman and sophomore season at UMass, but reached the challenges and the higher level of play needed during his last two years. Throughout the national championship, Carvel explained that Del Gaizo’s game was elevated during the tournament, and he came out prepared to defend that title during his senior year. With injuries plaguing Minutemen early in the 2021-22 season, he was the best player on the ice in a mid-season stretch alongside Trivigno, helping lead the team despite not having a letter on his jersey.

Del Gaizo will continue his hockey career in the AHL at the Milwaukee Admirals, where his brother Marc currently plays.

“All he’s done since he’s been to UMass is go up when we need him,” Carvel said. “I wish I had many more children like him.”

Ty Farmer was a player who received interest from other big name programs, but faced challenges during the recruitment process and found a home at UMass. He originally committed to Michigan State, but a change of coach left him without a team. After continuing in juniors, he received a call from Jared DeMichiel and without even visiting campus, he committed to becoming a Minuteman.

He was a steady presence in the ranks for most of his career and the defenders even saw time as a striker throughout the first half of his senior season due to a high number of injuries. His ability to play in any position and do what is asked of him was crucial to Minutemen.

Farmer chose to use his fifth year of eligibility to transfer to North Dakota as a graduate student.

Trivigno played all four seasons at UMass, though he was contacted by NHL teams after his junior year and could have signed a contract after winning the 2021 national championship.

“I have so much respect for the kids who do not rush off and sign and become pro,” Carvel said. “It’s getting so old. Stay here. If you develop well, if you’re around people who love you and people and people who push you to get better. You’ll be in college once. You can play professional for the rest of your life. “

In the senior’s first year, UMass embraced an underdog mentality and drove it all the way to the 2019 national championship game. The Minutemen lacked the title for Minnesota Duluth that year, but put their program on the map in the process.

“I do not think any of us came in here and thought we would be a national powerhouse every four years,” Del Gaizo said. “I think it definitely exceeded my expectations and I’m so proud of what we achieved.”

In the following season, the post-season game was canceled, but Trivigno and the rest of UMass came out with tremendous growth and determination in 2020. Despite no fans in the stands, they tried to do what had not been achieved before: win a national championship.

On April 10, 2021, they did just that.

The seniors padded all their resumes in their final season and won another hockey East championship in a row, with Trivigno receiving the back-to-back tournament MVP and Walter Brown awards. And most recently, Trivigno was named First Team All-American.

“When we all came to UMass, it was a mess,” Carvel said. “It was the character in the senior class that really changed things, and no more than that [Trivigno]. “

Trivigno was named captain at the start of the 2021-22 season, and Carvel constantly said his leadership went far beyond words. He showed what it meant to be a caption through his playing style and hard work.

“Whatever the situation, you need to be the best captain you can be,” Trivigno said. “I have absolutely loved leading these guys and I have received a lot of help from the senior class and older guys. But yes, I definitely love this group. “

For the past two years, he has played alongside Garrett Wait and Josh Lopina on the top line, and the three have accounted for most of UMass’ points.

“I’m going to miss playing with them,” Trivigno said. “I do not know if I will ever play with my best friends again.”

Seeing Trivigno embrace his teammates at the end of the loss to Minnesota at Worcester and continue to be the leader despite the season being over filled with a sense of gratitude. The two shared an embrace filled with love, and he wanted Trivigno to know that he did not owe him anything, but rather it was Carvel who owed him for everything he has done for the program.

“You just want to be there, support them and be close to them,” Carvel said. “I would give [Trivigno] a hug once more. “

With only one question left at this year’s final press conference, Carvel did not miss a beat, acknowledging that the last four years have been the best of his coaching career. He and the senior class have taken this program from a place where people did not think of them as a threat to national masters, none of which would have been possible without the hard work and leadership of the senior class.

As they leave UMass, their legacy will be left behind, and Del Gaizo left the podium in Worcester with a message he will send to the program in the future.

“Every time you’re on the rink, it’s all out, and even when you’re not there, it’s all out,” Del Gaizo said. “I think that was our standard and I hope they continue to do so.”

Sophie Weller can be met at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.

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