For now, forget the names and concentrate on the story line.
Semi nationally prominent college hockey program which has again skated its way into hockey's |Frozen Four national championship in round is devastated when COVID-19 testing knocked out four of the team's players, including the leading scorer and the starting goalie.
Adding to the angst is that the opponent is the two-time defending national champion.
Turn out the lights, the party is over right?
All of this is part of a bigger s script which has been played out over the past five seasons for this (then) under funded, under achieving hockey program which was competing in the ultra-tough Hockey East conference.
When the team posted a a woeful 8--24-4 record, the school's athletic director decided to make a change in coaches and brought in a highly regarded, but not well known coach from St. Lawrence, whose main credentials were that he spent 15 seasons as an assistant in the National Hockey League.
The new coach was given a simple mission: Make hockey relevant.
It is anything but that in the 2016-17 season when the team finished with an even more pathetic 5-29-2 record.
Yet, there were signs of life, which was on display a year later when the record improved to 17-20, which was the biggest one year turnaround in program history and the biggest jump in Division I hockey that season.
A year later, the program almost doubled the win total (31) and reached the Frozen Four national championship game.
A year later, the program was on the cusp of its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance when COVID-19 shut down the sport.
This season produced a solid season in which the main chore has been to avoid COVID-issue shutdowns.
It all appeared to be going on schedule when the team advanced to its second Frozen Four last weekend.
For extra flavor, the opponent was the same school which had beaten them in the championship game two years ago.
And then came the lightning bolt of the positive tests.
Fast forward to Thursday night in Pittsburgh, where the final score has just been posted for the entire world of college athletics and future script writers could view.
UMass 3, Minnesota Duluth 2 (OT)
That folks, is why they play the game on ponds from Alberta to Amherst and in big time stadiums and arenas with the sports world more aware of the existence of the University of Massachusetts hockey program..
Not many people, including UMass coach Greg Carvel, who has revived UMass hockey. saw this ending.
Although the score was tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation, it didn't feel like a tie game.
Duluth outshot the Minutemen , 36-15 in a game in which UMass finally tied with 11:35.
""They (Duluth) play a really heavy style we're not used to playing against,'' said |Carvel, who had to scramble to replace Carson Gicewicz (leading scorer) and goalie Filip Lindberg. And I think for two periods we struggled with it.''
The fact that the Minutemen were playing with a back up goalie, without their leading scorer and were still competitive at the end displays the soundness of the structure that Carvel has built at UMass.
"When you get to this stage,'' he said. ""I'll tell you, you can prepare them, you can say the right things. And I really liked our message in preparation, but when you get on the stage, you don't know what's actually going on--what's going to happen.
"Once they got the momentum going, when they realized how well they could play the game became really lopsided.''
And in a sense it was.
UMass out shot Duluth 13-2 in OT before Garret Wait put in the game winner with 5:30 remaining in overtime.
"Losing four players isn't easy,'' said Wait |Especially because they're with us every part of the way. And they bought in just like everybody else. But it's the next-man-up mentality.''
Said goalie Matt Murray, who played in his first game since January. "Obviously it's tough when you lose some of those key guys,'' he said. ""But it's even better when that happens and you have guys who step up their games.''
Next up for UMass is the championship game against St. Cloud State on Saturday night.
The Minutemen received a booster shot when they returned that three of their teammates, Henry Graham, Gicewicz and Lindberg were on their way to Pittsburgh to rejoin them.
Whether this fairy tale plays itself out the way UMass wants remains to be seen, but it's been quite a journey thus far.