BOSTON (CBS) — The UMass Men’s hockey team may not be getting all of the perks that go with winning a championship, but they received a special honor Tuesday afternoon. Members of the UMass hockey team were welcomed to the State House on Tuesday, celebrating its first-ever NCAA title with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Head coach Greg Carvel and a handful of players from the UMass hockey team were honored in a ceremony at the Ashburton Park entrance to the State House on Bowdoin St. The State House visit is the final formal recognition event for the hockey program during the spring semester, as current state guidelines prohibit a celebratory parade for the Minutemen.

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That parade will likely have to wait until the fall, but Tuesday’s ceremony brought on a special honor for the national champs. Governor Baker awarded the team with a citation that they can now display for the rest of their lives. He went with a citation over a proclamation, explaining that proclamations are big and usually get stuffed away in a drawer, while citations are smaller and much easier to display.

In addition to that nice honor, Baker also threw heaps of praise toward the Minutemen.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way these folks made it almost all the way two years ago, had an opportunity to play takeaway last year, and dealt with all the stuff the pandemic threw at them this year, a really tough game in the Semis against Minnesota-Duluth, to pull this off. They are a terrific hockey team,” Baker said Tuesday. “And they have made all of us in Massachusetts so proud of their work, effort and excellence. Congratulations to all of you.”

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Baker praised the UMass team for avenging their loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA Championship Game two years ago, and for overcoming the many difficulties that came with playing during a pandemic. UMass was missing some key players for its thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota-Duluth in the Frozen Four.

“To avenge the defeat two years ago against Minnesota-Duluth, and the way they did it, speaks in many ways to the character of this group of players and the coach who led them through the past three seasons,” said Baker.

The UMass Minutemen presented Baker and Polito with their own sweaters from the Frozen Four and a No. 21 on the back. The governor promptly put his sweater on Tuesday afternoon.

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UMass defeated St. Cloud State 5-0 on April 10 to earn the program’s first NCAA Championship. The Minutemen finished the season 20-5-4, going unbeaten over their final 14 games, to win the program’s first-ever Hockey East tournament along with its first-ever national title.

CBSBoston.com Staff