The road to a national championship has gotten tougher for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen hockey team, which will be without four players, including its star goaltender and leading scorer, in the upcoming NCAA Frozen Four due to failure to meet COVID-19 protocols.
UMass announced that starting goalie Filip Lindberg, forwards Carson Gicewicz and Jerry Harding, and backup goalie Henry Graham backup goalie, and the team’s leading scorer, will not be on the ice Thursday, April 8 against Minnesota-Duluth. Gicewicz leads the team in points scored.
Officials said the players were ruled out due to contact tracing protocols “in accordance with the University of Massachusetts policies."
Lindberg, a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Wild, has been a rock in net for the Minutemen during the home stretch, compiling a 9-1-4 record for the season, including 12 consecutive starts.
Gicewicz, who had a team-high 17 goals for UMass, is also out after scoring a hat trick in the regional final to get them to the Final Four.
Harding is a fourth-line wing who tallied two goals and four assists in 25 games this season, while Graham is the third-string goalie behind Lindberg and senior backup Matt Murray, who is the only netminder still eligible to play after starting 13 of UMass’ first 15 games before ceding his position to Lindberg.
According to ESPN’s John Buccigross, the Minutemen will use an equipment manager as the backup goaltender on Thursday
UMass head coach Greg Carvel said that there’s no time to dwell on the losses, and it will instead be up to the rest of the Minutemen squad to pick up the slack in their absence.
“I feel for these players who have sacrificed so much over the last year and committed themselves to getting our team to this point,” he said in a statement. “They have earned the right to compete for a national championship, and to have this unfortunate situation occur now is hard to comprehend.
“But nevertheless it’s a result that we have to accept, and we will move forward together and utilize the depth of our roster for Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.”
UMass is scheduled to take on the two-time defending champion Minnesota Duluth at 9 p.m. on Thursday in a rematch of the 2019 NCAA final. The winner will then take on either St. Cloud State or Minnesota State in the National Championship game on Saturday, April 10.
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