Massachusetts will be without four players, including its top goaltender and leading goal scorer, for Thursday’s NCAA Frozen Four semifinal against Minnesota Duluth due to COVID-19 protocols, the Minutemen announced Tuesday morning.
Senior wing Carson Gicewicz, junior goaltender Filip Lindberg, sophomore forward Jerry Harding and freshman backup goaltender Henry Graham have all been ruled out for the 8 p.m. national semifinal Thursday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh due to contact tracing.
UMass arrived in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon along with the Bulldogs. Teams are not scheduled to take their first COVID-19 test until Tuesday afternoon, though programs were required to test everyone in their travel party 48 hours prior to arrival at the Frozen Four on Monday. A second round of tests will be conducted prior to Wednesday's practice session and a third before Thursday's semifinals.
"I feel for these players who have sacrificed so much over the last year and committed themselves to getting our team to this point," UMass coach Greg Carvel said in a statement released Tuesday morning. "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."
Lindberg, a 2018 seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Wild, has been the Minutemen’s starter in goal since Jan. 22. The native of Espoo, Finland has posted a .946 save percentage, 1.33 goals against average, 9-1-4 record and four shutouts in 14 starts. He backstopped UMass to the 2019 NCAA title game against UMD as a freshman, making 28 saves on 31 shots in a 3-0 loss.
Gicewicz, who transferred in this season from St. Lawrence, led the Minutemen and all of Hockey East in goals this season with 17. He finished with 24 points in 27 games, including four goals in the regional tournament thanks to a hat trick in the final against Bemidji State.
Harding is a fourth-line winger who has two goals and four assists in 25 games.
Graham is the team’s third-string goaltender, but his absence leaves UMass with just one goalie now for Thursday’s game in senior backup Matt Murray, who hasn’t played since Jan. 18. Murray started 13 of the Minutemen’s first 15 games, going 9-4 with a .913 save percentage, 2.01 GAA and three shutouts.
According to ESPN’s John Buccigross, the Minutemen will use an equipment manager as the backup goaltender on Thursday against UMD, which did not play an NCAA regional semifinal game in the NCAA tournament after Michigan had to withdraw due to positive COVID-19 test results within the program. The Bulldogs were advanced via a no-contest to the regional final in Fargo, North Dakota, where they beat top-seeded North Dakota 3-2 in five overtimes to reach their fourth-straight Frozen Four.