A short-handed University of Massachusetts hockey team is making a splash in the Frozen Four and will play for the national championship this weekend.
- Earlier story - COVID-19: UMass Will Be Without Star Goalie, Top Scorer, Two Others In Frozen Four Due To Virus
Despite missing some of their top players - including future NHL goalie Filip Lindberg and top scorer Carson Gicewicz - UMass pulled off a stunner against two-time defending national champion Minnesota Duluth with a 3-2 overtime win on Thursday night that saw junior Garret Wait put the game-winning goal in the back of the net 14:30 into the extra period.
The win propelled the Minutemen into the final, where they will square off against St. Cloud State at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 10 in the National Championship, which will air on ESPN. It will also be broadcasted on WHMP AM 1400/1240 FM and 101.5/107.5 FM.
Down four players due to COVID-19 protocols, the Minutemen struggled during regulation, being outshot by the Bulldogs 36-15 and trailing for most of the game until tying it up with slightly more than a minute to play in regulation.
It was all UMass from there, outshooting the defending champions 13-2 in the extra period until Wait took a pass from Bobby Trivingo behind the net in the 14th minute and put a wraparound shot past backup goalie Zach Stejskal, who was thrust into action when starter Ryan Fanti didn’t travel with the team due to COVID-19 concerns.
UMass head coach Greg Carvel said that his team struggled with Minnesota Duluth’s defensive styling for most of the game until wearing down their opponent, who he said was “the best team we’ve played this year.”
“I think for two periods we struggled with (Minnesota Duluth’s defense). I don't know if frustration is the right word. But what we usually do just wasn't working,” he said after the game. “And so after the second period, I really urged the players to realize that it's going to take more. And I thought the kids did a great job in the third period. So, we kept rolling four lines the whole game.
“When it got to overtime and as we found more confidence in our game and more aggression, being more aggressive in our play, we were getting them stuck in their D zone and that really wears you out when you have to play in your own zone for a long time,” Carvel added. "The overtime was pretty lopsided."
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