PITTSBURGH – When Massachusetts forward Garrett Wait scored to beat Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in Thursday's second semifinal, he had some interested onlookers back in Minneapolis.
"I watched my old roommate Garrett Wait score the overtime winner,'' said Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine, who was named the Mike Richter Award winner on Friday. "That was so funny because I was watching with [defenseman] Jackson LaCombe, and we were talking about it, 'Uh, I've got a funny feeling Waiter's gonna score.' I was so happy for him.''
On Saturday night, LaFontaine and Co. saw Wait's decision to transfer to Massachusetts pay off in a big way as the Minutemen defeated St. Cloud State 5-0 for the national championship. Though Wait didn't score Saturday, he had a plus-1 rating and was part of a UMass team that kept St. Cloud State off the scoreboard.
Wait, a junior from Edina, played 40 games for the Gophers in the previous two seasons, collecting four goals and nine assists before entering the transfer portal following the 2019-20 season. He landed at UMass after being contacted by Minutemen assistant coach Jared DeMichiel and consulting with forward Bobby Trivigno, a former teammate with Waterloo of the USHL.
"I didn't really know anything about the school or anything,'' Wait said Thursday. "… I kind of took a leap of faith on what they were saying. I really enjoyed what they were saying about being a family here and the culture.''
Wait has fit in nicely with UMass, scoring nine goals and assisting on eight in 29 games. He was the right winger on a line with left winger Trivigno, an East All-America first-team selection and named the Frozen Four's most outstanding player, and center Josh Lopina.
Wait had 24 goals in 2017-18 with Waterloo, and that intrigued UMass coach Greg Carvel.
"I was excited for that, and he has the ability to score,'' Carvel said Thursday. "I think it was a third of the way into the year or maybe a little more that I realized that I want to see if he had some chemistry with Trivigno, and they have.''
On Thursday's winning goal 14 minutes, 30 seconds into overtime, Wait parked himself at the left post as Trivigno circled around the net, then sent the puck across the crease. "I decided to stop on the back post and put my stick on the ice,'' Wait said. "And lucky enough it found my stick. Trigs made a great play.''
On Saturday, the Minutemen won the title, making Wait's goal one of the highlights of a championship season. He'll be returning to a program that wants to make championships a habit.
"We had that hunger after losing two years ago, and now the challenge is to maintain it,'' Carvel said. "Everybody will be gunning for us. And that's great. I like that challenge.''