UMass hockey forward Garrett Wait facing familiar faces in NCAA Tournament foe Minnesota

  • UMass’ Garrett Wait, center, has made himself at home with the Minutemen the past two seasons. He started his college career at Minnesota, UMass’ NCAA Tournament opponent Friday in Worcester. AP FILE

Staff Writer
Published: 3/23/2022 4:34:02 PM
Modified: 3/23/2022 4:33:10 PM

AMHERST – Garrett Wait could end his college career facing the team he started it with.

The UMass senior from Edina, Minn., played two seasons at Minnesota from 2018-20 before joining the Minutemen prior to last year. The Minutemen will face the Gophers in the NCAA Tournament at 6 p.m. Friday at the DCU Center in Worcester (ESPNU).

“It’s pretty much a different team from when I was there,” Wait said. “I mean, they’ve got like half the guys I played with, and now they’re better than when I was there.”

Of the 27 players on Minnesota’s roster, Wait shared the ice with 14. That includes two from his recruiting class that also attended Edina High School, defenseman Ben Brinkman and forward Sammy Walker.

“I was asking him when they lose, how teams play against them and what's hard on them,” Brinkman told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He wouldn't give me anything.”

Wait played 40 games for the Gophers in two years and accumulated 10 points, joining his boyhood team.

“I don't want to admit it, but I cheered for the Gophers,” Wait said.

He came to Minnesota after three years with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, where he played with UMass captain Bobby Trivigno in 2017-18. UMass sports performance coach Brandon Wickett had also worked at Minnesota previously and spoke highly of Wait’s character.

“He’d scored a lot of goals in the USHL (37 goals and 90 points in 137 games) and he was just an odd man out in Minnesota and needed a fresh start,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “I had enough people around the program that knew him and could vouch for his character. I knew his stats, his stats speak for themselves. We thought it was a good risk for us, and it turned out to be a great situation.”

Wait was one of just eight players to appear in all 29 of UMass’ games last season. He surpassed his Gophers career scoring totals (three goals, seven assists) in just 21 games playing on a still-intact line with Trivigno and Josh Lopina. Wait finished with 17 points on nine goals and eight assists last year, and he’s up to 24 points (12 goals) this season. 

“He does the little things that a lot of people probably don't notice, but we do as a team, as a staff,” Carvel said.

He parked himself at the net front for both Trivigno’s game-tying goal and Aaron Bohlinger’s game-winning goal in the Hockey East championship game Saturday against UConn. Wait was named to the all-tournament team. His goals are rarely pretty, but they count the same as a bar-down snipe following a toe drag.

“We score about a goal a game because he pays the price at the net front,” Carvel said. “Garrett’s a kid that probably doesn’t get recognized for his grittiness because he scores goals for us, too. He does a lot of dirty little things for us.”

Wherever he started, Wait is a Minuteman now, etched forever in UMass hockey lore for the overtime goal he scored in last season’s Frozen Four against Minnesota Duluth to send UMass to the national championship game. That hasn’t always gone over the best with his family, some of which work for Minnesota or support either St. Cloud State or Minnesota Duluth.

“If I’m playing them, they’ll cheer for me, I hope,” Wait said. “I know one cousin, who’s diehard St. Cloud. He’ll never cheer for me.”

Plenty of fans in Worcester this weekend wearing maroon and white will, though.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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