Bridgeport, CT. – Two seasons after making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four, the University of Massachusetts Minutemen are going back to college hockey’s Promised Land after a convincing 4-0 shutout of the Bemidji State Beavers at Webster Bank Arena. The Minutemen won the East Regional by vanquishing two WCHAschools by a combined 8-1. The winner of North Dakota vs. Minnesota-Duluth (starting at 8:30 pm EST) will await the Minutemen in Pittsburgh, PA.
Junior goaltender Filip Lindberg backstopped the Minutemen to their seventh shutout of the season, his fourth, by turning back all 20 Beaver shots.
The Minutemen took the game to the Beavers early, knowing that Bemidji came out attacking the day before against Wisconsin.
The first period was the Carson Gicewicz show as the senior had two goals to power the Minutemen to a 2-0 lead after one.
Massachusetts forward Oliver Chau was called for Hooking at 11:24, giving the Beavers the first power-play. Halfway through the man-advantage, Jake Gaudet was called for Tripping, putting the Beavers on a five-on-three for one minute.
The Minutemen killed off the Chau penalty successfully. Chau was then instrumental in setting up Gicewicz’s first goal of the night, a short-hand situation. Gicewicz chipped the puck to a streaking Chau out of the box, then darted into the offensive zone to deposit Chau’s return pass at the side of the Bemidji goal.
“When you have a five-on-three, you want to capitalize,” said Bemidji senior Ethan Somoza. “We weren’t able to capitalize on it in the right way. They scored a short-handed goal. You never want that to happen. It’s a game-changer there.”
With time winding down in the first, Gicewicz tipped in a Matthew Kessel shot from the blueline to beat Zach Driscoll (24 saves) and make it 2-0 Minutemen.
At 6:34 of the second period, Gicewicz capped off the Hat-Trick when he banged in a Gaudet shot rebound. The goal was Gicewicz’s 17th goal of the year.
Midway through the second, the Beavers killed off a UMass five-on-three opportunity to keep the game within reach. UMass is 12-2 when leading after two periods this year.
With Minutemen Defenseman Zac Jones in the box for Hooking at 16:37, Bemidji’s leading scorer, Somoza, hit the crossbar with a shot from in front of Lindberg and then had a rebound bid stuffed by the Finnish goalie.
In the third, the Minutemen continued to smother the Beavers. With the net empty at 16:54, Chau tapped in an empty-net goal to cap off the 4-0 win.
“It was a good team, a really good hockey team we played today. It was the best hockey team we’ve seen all year,” said Bemidji coach Tom Serratore. “We got behind. Once we got behind, we started chasing the game. It was hard to get that first goal. Or even if we answered back, that could have jump-started us, but it just never happened.”
“It thought that was a dominant game. A very thorough game by our group” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “Came out, and we set the tone. We played very strong defensive hockey. I don’t think we gave up a ton.”
“Our first line was huge this weekend,” added Carvel. Gicewicz, Gaudet, and Chau scored seven of UMass’s eight goals.