UMass beats Minnesota Duluth in OT, advances to 2nd straight national championship game

  • UMass and Minnesota-Duluth players battle during the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals held at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Minutemen advanced to their second consecutive national championship game thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory. UMass will play St. Cloud State on Saturday at 7 p.m. Justin K.Aller/NCAA

  • Massachusetts goalie Matt Murray takes a break during the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals held at PPG Paints Arena on April 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Justin K.Aller

  • Action between UMass and Duluth during the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals held at PPG Paints Arena on April 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Justin K.Aller—NCAA

Staff Writer
Published: 4/9/2021 12:54:59 AM
Modified: 4/9/2021 12:54:56 AM

PITTSBURGH – Wait for it.

UMass senior Garrett Wait – the Minutemen’s only Minnesota native in a Frozen Four with three teams from the Land of 10,000 Lakes – sent UMass back to the national championship game with an overtime winner Thursday at PPG Paints Arena. The Minutemen prevailed 3-2 against Minnesota Duluth and will face St. Cloud State for the national championship at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Bobby Trivigno worked the puck around the back of the net then found Wait on the other side of the goal. 

UMass dominated the overtime period with a crushing forecheck. The Minutemen lived in Minnesota Duluth’s zone and peppered Bulldogs goalie Zach Stejskal.

Its second-ranked penalty kill got UMass to the extra frame.

The Minutemen weren’t whistled for a penalty all game, then Zac Jones was called for a cross check with 1:19 remaining, leaving UMass without one of its best defenders and top penalty killers with the season hanging in the balance.

Minnesota Duluth generated a golden scoring chance, but Matt Murray kicked the puck just hard enough to send it wide to his left. Then Kobe Roth was called for his own cross check with 46.6 seconds remaining to even the skaters at four apiece and send UMass to overtime for its second consecutive national semifinal. The Minutemen beat Denver 4-3 in extra time in 2019.

Anthony Del Gaizo ensured the Mintuemen got to the extra frame in the third period. The junior replaced Carson Gicewicz on the first line to start the game after the St. Lawrence graduate transfer didin’t travel to Pittsburgh due to COVID-19 protocols. Del Gaizo worked around the back of the net and poked the puck in short side after attempts by Bobby Trivigno and Josh Lopina were turned aside. That made it 2-2 with 11:32 left.

Cole Koepke gave Minnesota Duluth a 2-1 lead by heeding every coach’s advice: he took the puck to the net and followed his shot. After wheeling around the back of the net, Matt Murray saved his original attempt. The puck popped right back out to Kopeke, who found a hole and the back of the net. Noha Cates and Nick Swaney assisted on the play.

UMass nearly capitalized immediately after on a Minnesota Duluth turnover, but Stejskal was able to stop Reed Lebster’s point-blank one-timer.

Two UMass players were pulled to the ice early in the first period, but Minnesota Duluth was not whistled for a penalty. Then 14:57 into the game, Tanner Laderoute hooked Bobby Trivigno to send the Minutemen to the power play.

It didn’t take them long to capitalize on it. Oliver Chau cycled the puck out to Matthew Kessel at the blue line, then he sent it across the ice to his defensive partner. Jones, a New York Rangers prospect, picked out the top right corner of the net around a Jake Gaudet screen 36 seconds into the man advantage.

That put the Minutemen ahead 1-0 with 4:27 remaining in the first period. The lead lasted just 2:17. Laderoute atoned for his earlier error by poking in the puck when it was sitting in the crease after Quinn Olson slipped it behind Murray after wheeling around from the back of the net. Connor Kelley also picked up an assist on the play.

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