PITTSBURGH – After University of Massachusetts hockey found a way to force overtime, junior Garrett Wait finished the job 14:30 into the in the extra stanza to send UMass to its second straight National Championship game with a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth in the early hours of Friday morning at PPG Paints Arena. The win moves the Minutemen to 19-5-4 on the year and the squad will face Saint Cloud State in the title game on Saturday, April 10, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
“For two periods Duluth was the best team we’ve played this year,” said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. “They play a really heavy style that we’re not used to playing against. And I think for two periods we struggled with it. I don’t know if frustration is the right word. But what we usually do just wasn’t working. 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. The overtime was pretty lopsided.”
UMass earned the first power play of the night and subsequently converted the opportunity. After receiving the puck from senior Oliver Chau, sophomore Matt Kessel tapped it over to his defensive partner, Zac Jones. Jones then proceeded to find the top right corner of the Minnesota Duluth net for his ninth tally of the season at the 15:33 mark.
The Bulldogs responded just 2:17 later, tying the score at 1-1. Tanner Laderoute cleaned up a loose puck at the top of the crease from Quinn Olson and Connor Kelley to put Minnesota Duluth on the board.
UMD then pulled in front, 2-1, midway through the second. With goaltender Matt Murray without his stick, Cole Koepke put home his own rebound at the 11:01 mark with Noah Cates and Nick Swaney earning the helpers.
Anthony Del Gaizo came up with the equalizer that would ultimately send the contest into overtime, banging home the puck after freshman Josh Lopina’s attempt at goal squirted through to the back post at the 8:25 mark of the third. Junior Bobby Trivigno earned an assist on the play, as well.
UMass controlled the play in the overtime period, outshooting UMD 13-2 and ultimately wore down the Bulldogs’ defense. After picking the puck up from Lopina, Trivigno drove to the net out of the corner and found Wait at the back post for the tap in, his ninth goal of the season.
Minnesota Duluth ended the night with a 38-28 shots on goal advantage and went 0-for-1 on the power play, while UMass was 1-for-2.
Murray totaled 36 stops for the Minutemen, three shy of his career high, while Zach Stejskal made 25 saves for the Bulldogs. Trivigno and Lopina both finished the night with multi-point games, contributing two assists apiece each.
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