Canton native Greg Carvel’s quest to coach the University of Massachusetts men’s hockey team to a national championship was hit with a major blow Tuesday as four of the Minutemen, including the starting goalie and leading goal-scorer Carson Gicewicz, were announced as not being able to play in Thursday’s semifinal due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
College Hockey News reported that one player tested positive for COVID-19 and the others were close contacts. The four players did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh for the game against two-time defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth.
In addition to Gicewicz, who was a captain with St. Lawrence University the previous two seasons, the Minutemen will play without standout goalie Filip Lindberg, as well as goaltender Henry Graham and forward Jerry Harding.
“I feel for these players who have sacrificed so much over the last year and committed themselves to getting our team to this point,” Carvel 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.”
Gicewicz leads UMass (18-5-1 overall) with 17 goals and he is third on the team in scoring with 24 points. Lindberg owns a 9-1-4 record, a 1.33 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in 14 games. Harding has two goals and four assists and Graham is a third-string goalie who has not played this season.
Two goalies sidelined puts the Minutemen in a precarious spot with only one scholarship goalie available for the game. Matt Murray was the team’s primary goalie at the start of the season and has a 9-4 record with a 2.01 GAA and a .913 percentage. UMass’s student equipment manager Zac Steig will be in uniform as an emergency backup goalie Thursday.
Thursday’s contest, which starts at 9 p.m., is a rematch of the last national championship game in 2019, which Minnesota-Duluth won 3-0.