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UMass Is Back in the Title Game After OT Win Over Minnesota Duluth

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH – It took overtime of all things to end the remarkable NCAA Tournament run for Minnesota Duluth.

A goal-mouth pass from Bobby Trivigno to Garrett Wait completed a domination of OT for the UMass Minutemen as they upended two-time defending champion Minnesota Duluth 3-2, avenging their 2019 championship loss to the Bulldogs and ending UMD’s nine-game winning streak in the NCAA tournament. It was also the first overtime loss in the NCAA Tournament for the Bulldogs in nine such instances dating back to 1985.

“For two periods, Duluth is the best team we’ve played this year. They play a really heavy style that we’re not used to playing against,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “For two periods we struggled with it. And so after the second period I really urged the players that it’s going to take more.”

After being able to manage an equalizer in the third period, the overtime was surprisingly one-sided. Carvel rolled all four of his lines against a Duluth team that seemingly ran only their top three, which seemed to wear them out the longer the game went.

“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,” Carvel said. “The overtime was pretty lopsided.”

As for how the extra session ended, it was a beautiful play set up by Trivigno, who initially looked like he was going to try a wraparound but saw Wait on the other end of the net and took his chance.

“I saw Trivigno take it around the net, and I decided to stop on the back post, and put my stick on the ice, and lucky enough it found my stick,” Wait said. “Trigs made a great play.”

Minnesota Duluth, which had won 12 of their last 13 NCAA Tournament games dating back to the 2017 tournament, would have become the first team in history to reach four consecutive championship games had they won. Instead, it’s an unfamiliar feeling for head coach Scott Sandelin’s group of players.

“There’s not a lot I’m going to say to make them feel better, but I wanted to make sure they should be really proud of getting the opportunity to get back here and everybody’s gone through a tough year,” Sandelin said.

Zac Jones got things started for the Minutemen, scoring on a power play after the rest of his unit had beautiful puck movement to set it up. Tanner Laderoute, whose hooking penalty set up the UMass goal, made up for it personally by knocking in a rebound of a Quinn Olson shot to tie the game.

“That was a huge goal by Tanner. I think we knew we just kind of had to work them down low, get back to playing our game,” Nick Swaney said.

The Bulldogs took their first lead when Cole Koepke, who had a big game against North Dakota in the Midwest Regional final, scored off his own rebound early in the second period.

Anthony Del Gaizo, a recent addition to the top line after UMass left four players behind due to Covid protocol, tied the game on a rebound after he and his teammates would not let up in front of UMD goaltender Zach Stejskal.

Sandelin thought the play tilted toward UMass the rest of the way after that.

“I thought that goal they got really gave them a lift,” he said. “They were playing hard. And when you’re down, they’re going to play with a little more urgency. And they did that.

After being outshot 36-15 in regulation by Duluth, UMass countered with a dominant overtime in which they kept play in the offensive zone for most of the extra session and outshot the Bulldogs 13-2, wearing them down defensively before Wait’s game-winner.

“Coach kept telling us to keep our feet moving,” Wait said. “So that’s what we did.”

Sandelin agreed that that’s what made the difference.

“When you play defense, you run out of gas quick,” he said. “They made us defend, and conversely, we didn’t have a lot of energy going the other way.”

Matt Murray made 36 saves in net for UMass, and tejskal had 25 for Duluth.

The Minutemen advanced to their second consecutive national championship, and the winner of their matchup with the St. Cloud State Huskies on Saturday night will win their first title in school history. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 CT.

Scoring summary:

First period:

UMass goal at 15:33: Zac Jones (9). Assisted by Matthew Kessel (13) and Oliver Chau (21).

UMD goal at 17:50: Tanner Laderoute (3). Assisted by Quinn Olson (8) and Connor Kelley (2).

Second period:

UMD goal at 11:01: Cole Koepke (15). Assisted by Noah Cates (14) and Nick Swaney (15).

Third period:

UMass goal at 8:25: Anthony Del Gaizo (2). Assisted by Josh Lopina (13) and Bobby Trivigno (22).

Overtime:

UMass goal at 14:30: Garrett Wait (9). Assisted by Trivigno (23) and Lopina (14).

Power plays: UMD 0-1, UMass 1-2.

Shots on goal: UMD 38, UMass 28. (13-2 UMass in OT)