BOSTON (CBS) — The UMass Minutemen will play one of the biggest games in the history of the program on Thursday night, but they’ll be taking the ice without four players.

UMass Athletics announced Tuesday that four players will not be able to play in Thursday night’s game against Minnesota-Duluth, due to “COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.”

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The four players are Carson Gicewicz, Henry Graham, Jerry Harding, and Filip Lindberg.

Gicewicz led the team with 17 goals this season, seven more than any other player. He ranked third on the team with 24 points. He netted a natural hat trick in UMass’ win over Bemidji State last week to advance to the Frozen Four.

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Lindberg split time with Matt Murray as the team’s starting goaltender this season, posting a .946 save percentage and 1.32 goals-against average for a 9-1-4 record with four shutouts. Lindberg started and won all three of UMass’ national tournament games thus far, allowing just one goal. He also posted a 16-save shutout to beat UMass Lowell in the Hockey East championship.

“I feel for these players who have sacrificed so much over the last year and committed themselves to getting our team to this point,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “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.”

If the Minutemen win on Thursday, they will advance to the national championship game on Saturday, to face the winner of Minnesota State and St. Cloud State. The university’s statement did not state whether the players would be available for that game if UMass advances.

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This year marked the second-ever Frozen Four appearance for UMass hockey. The Minutemen reached that point in 2019, losing in the national championship game 3-0 to Minnesota-Duluth.

CBSBoston.com Staff