UMass was the first team from the field of 16 to punch its ticket to the Frozen Four.
The second-seeded Minutemen earned its place in Pittsburgh with a 4-0 victory over No. 4 Bemidji State in the Bridgeport (Conn.) Regional final on Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena.
The Minutemen (18-5-4) secured their second straight trip to the Frozen Four, which begins April 8 at PPG Paints Arena and will face the winner of the Fargo (N.D.) Regional final between North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth. UMass went to the title game in 2019 before falling 3-0 to UMD.
“I thought that was a very dominant game and thorough game by our group,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “We came out and set the tone and played a very strong defensive hockey game.”
Redshirt senior right-wing Carson Gicewicz paced the attack with his first career hat trick while junior goaltender Filip Lindberg registered 18 saves for his 10th career shutout. Lindberg has allowed just four goals in five postseason games.
“To get one (hat trick) on a stage like this and for all of them to be pretty much be where I didn’t have to do much goes to show how solid of a team we have,” said Gicewicz, a first-year transfer from St. Lawrence.
Carvel was livid over the Minutemen’s six penalties in Friday’s 5-1 win over Lake Superior State. The message failed to reach the rank and file when Oliver Chau (hooking at 11:33) and Jake Gaudet (tripping at 12:34) were lugged 1:01 apart giving the Beavers a 5-on-3 power play for 59 seconds in the first period.
UMass not only killed both, but scored a shorthanded goal on a brilliant give-and-go play between Chau and Gicewicz at 14:24. Defenseman Aaron Bohlinger cleared the puck up the left boards and Gicewicz won a race with Bemidji defenseman Tyler Vold. Gicewicz fed Chau who returned the puck to his linemate at the left post for an easy redirect.
“That was a punch in the gut,” said Beavers coach Tom Serratore. “You want to score on a 5-on-3, but if you are not going to score don’t give up a shortie and it is tough on you psychologically when you give up a shorthanded goal.”
UMass went up 2-0 at 19:09 on Gicewicz’ second of the game. Defenseman Matthew Kessel launched a bomb from the right point that Gicewicz redirected by Zach Driscoll.
Driscoll made a miracle save to keep it a two-goal game five minutes into the second period. UMass left wing Bobby Trivigno, the Hockey East tournament MVP, connected with center Josh Lopina in the low slot. Driscoll made a quick adjustment to keep the puck from going five-hole.
Gicewicz recorded the trick at 6:34 of the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Gaudet made a strong play along the left boards, circled deep toward the cage and found Gicewicz in front. Gicewicz took the pass and beat Driscoll with a flick of the wrist for his 17th of the season.
Chau scored an empty-netter with 3:04 to play in the game.