Frozen Four: UMass goalie Matt Murray stayed ready for starting opportunity

  • UMass senior Matt Murray will start his first game in net for UMass on Thursday since January. He stayed ready all season in case an opportunity arose. JUSTIN K. ALLER / NCAA PHOTOS via GETTY IMAGES

  • UMass senior Matt Murray will start his first game in net for UMass on Thursday since January. He stayed ready all season in case an opportunity arose. JUSTIN K. ALLER / NCAA PHOTOS via GETTY IMAGES

Staff Writer
Published: 4/7/2021 8:52:13 PM

Matt Murray stayed ready. UMass’ senior goalie hadn’t played since Jan. 18 at Boston University. He likely didn’t expect to see any time during the Frozen Four because of the way junior Filip Lindberg was playing.

Then it was announced Tuesday that Lindberg was one of four Minutemen not making the trip to Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Now it’s up to Murray to help the Minutemen beat two-time defending champion Minntesota-Duluth, a feat Lindberg couldn’t accomplish in 2019, when they meet at 9 p.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Lindberg and Murray alternated games for most of their time at UMass, so he’s accustomed to moving in and out of the lineup.

“Obviously you want to be the guy playing. Filip and I have had nothing but good, healthy competition for our time together here at UMass. No complaints from my end at all,” Murray said. “I’ve had my opportunity, and he’s had his. This is one of my opportunities that I need to take full force with and take advantage of.”

Murray established himself as UMass’ No. 1 goalie early in the season after three years of switching. He started 11 games in a row in December and January, winning seven in a row at one point. The Alberta native was named to the Mike Richter Award (nation’s best goalie) watch list in early February. That was right before Lindberg returned from injury and ripped off a 12-game unbeaten streak, including the program’s first Hockey East title.

All the while, Murray kept preparing like he could step in at any moment.

“I’m really impressed with how hard Matt’s continued to practice when we’ve finally, after three years, gone to one guy consistently. His attitude has been outstanding, his work ethic,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “This is a big one for him. I’m excited for him. He’s been a good teammate, been a great goalie. He owns a lot of records for this program.”

He’s UMass’ all-time leader in wins (51) and shutouts (11). Murray ranks sixth in career saves (1,904), ahead of Jonathan Quick, who won the Stanley Cup for the Los Angeles Kings and carried UMass to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 2007. His save percentage (.915) ranks third behind Lindberg and Quick, and his goals against average (2.21) is second to Lindberg.

“I hate to call him a backup goalie. I’m not concerned about the goaltending. I’m concerned about the team in front of him,” Carvel said. “Hopefully he has an easy night because the team in front of him plays well. If we have to rely on our goaltender to make a lot of saves, we won’t win the game.”

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




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