Two years ago on the Friday before the national championship game, Canton native Greg Carvel’s University of Massachusetts men’s hockey team spent the day on the move, highlighted by attending the Hobey Baker Award ceremony for sophomore Cale Makar.
The fun ended when the championship game began Saturday night as Minnesota-Duluth blanked the Minutemen 3-0.
Carvel, a former St. Lawrence University head coach who is back in another national championship game at 7 tonight against St. Cloud State in Pittsburgh, learned from that first NCAA Frozen Four experience.
“The last time we didn’t notice Duluth running around,” Carvel said. “We noticed they knew enough to let their kids rest. The experience of two years (ago) has been real critical. We are letting the kids rest and recover. We learned our lesson. We felt like we were a tired team going into the championship game last time and now we are doing our best to let our guys re-energize and focus to play another rough team from the NCHC.”
UMass (19-5-4 overall) is still around because it avenged that 2019 loss to the two-time national champion Bulldogs with a 3-2 overtime win Thursday night.
Garrett Wait scored on a pass from Walter Brown Award winner Bobby Trivigno at 15 minutes, 30 seconds of overtime to send the Minutemen into tonight’s game.
UMass dominated the overtime period, outshooting the Bulldogs 13-2. The game finally ended when Trivigno skated behind the net, came around and found Wait with a pass. Wait was alone on the other side of the crease and simply tapped in the puck.
UMass was hampered by the loss of starting goalie Filip Lindberg and former SLU captain Carson Gicewicz due to COVID-19 tracing.
Both of those players, along with third-string goalie Henry Graham, arrived in Pittsburgh today and can play tonight if they pass a COVID-19 test in the morning.
“I haven’t seen the kids yet,” Carvel said. “I think they are here but they are still in quarantine and I believe they are until midnight. Until I see them I won’t make any decisions on anything.”
St. Cloud State (20-10) scored in the final minute to beat Minnesota State, 5-4, in the first semifinal. The Huskies beat two teams familiar to UMass in the Northeast Regional in Albany, knocking off Boston University, 6-2, and Boston College, 4-1.
“I haven’t really seen anything about St. Cloud State until last night,” Carvel said. “I don’t have anything to compare them to. You have an idea of their style and their identity, but I don’t feel comfortable comparing St. Cloud State to any (former opponent).
“They played kind of a trap, a lot of the (Minnesota State) game in the neutral zone. That’s one thing we’ll have to prepare our players for. It’s probably a little bit out of the norm. Usually teams are coming aggressive at you. They are playing a style right now that’s kind of sit back and let you make mistakes and counter. We haven’t really seen that a lot and we’ll have to be ready for it or we’ll pay the price with transition offense.”
For UMass this is the second attempt to win a national title. For Carvel this is his third time competing for a championship as he was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Final in 2007.
“Two years ago that experience was really critical,” Carvel said. “The first time you get here, it’s fun. It’s exciting. You’ve never done it before. The second time you are more on a mission.”