Frozen notebook: Kurt Keats excels in final college hockey game

  • Massachusetts defenseman Cale Makar (16) looks to shoot on Minnesota-Duluth goalie Hunter Shepard (32) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts players react to a 3-0 loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward Jacob Pritchard (14) and Minnesota-Duluth forward Noah Cates (21) collide during the third period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts goalie Filip Lindberg (35) makes a save against Minnesota-Duluth during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts' Marc Del Gaizo (2) defends against Minnesota-Duluth' Parker Mackay (39) during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Minnesota-Duluth forward Parker Mackay (39) puts the puck past Massachusetts goalie Filip Lindberg (35) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward Kurt Keats (7) stick checks Minnesota-Duluth forward Billy Exell (16) during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts Marc Del Gazio (2) defends against Minnesota-Duluth Parker Mackay (39) during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts goalie Filip Lindberg (35) makes a save against Minnesota-Duluth during the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward John Leonard (9) kicks the puck past Minnesota-Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts forward Mitchell Chaffee (21) and Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Louie Roehl (6) battle behind the net during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Minnesota-Duluth forward Parker Mackay (39) celebrates his goal during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game against Massachusetts, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts defenseman Cale Makar (16) looks to shoot on Minnesota-Duluth goalie Hunter Shepard (32) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Massachusetts defenseman Mario Ferraro (5) and Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Matt Anderson (3) battle for the puck during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey championship game, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Jeffrey T. Barnes

  • Minnesota-Duluth goaltender, Ben Patt, touches palms with his girlfriend through the plexiglass at the Sabres' KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y., after winning the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship two years in a row with the Bulldogs.

Published: 4/14/2019 2:09:08 AM

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Kurt Keats was tantalizingly close to the Hollywood ending he wanted.

Keats was the only player left on UMass’ roster who played under former coach John Micheletto. When Greg Carvel came in and overhauled the roster, Keats was the lone survivor, and it wasn’t because of his hockey skills. Carvel needed to change the culture of UMass hockey and it began with adding the right players to the locker room.

Despite his limitations, Keats was undeniably one of the best players on the ice for the Minutemen in his final game in a UMass jersey — a 3-0 loss to Minnesota Duluth in the national championship Saturday.

“Kurt is a good kid, he’s a great kid,” Carvel said. “That’s why he made it through. He’s a limited hockey player. He’d say it. I’ll say it. But he plays with his heart. Tonight he was a very good player. In the national championship game, he was one of our best players.”

On a night where UMass didn’t have much energy, it was the fourth line of Keats, Anthony Del Gaizo and George Mika who delivered. They were a major source of offensive chances for the Minutemen and created dangerous looks by simply putting pucks on net and scrambling for rebounds. Although they could not get a stick on those loose pucks, their impact was felt.

And no one was skating faster or harder than Keats, who said he tried not to give much thought to the significance of it being his final game.

“It’s something you try not to think of,” Keats said. “Obviously it’s in the back of my head. We talked as a line before the game, as we usually do. We just said, ‘Let’s give it 110 percent. Let’s be the hardest-working line tonight.’ I’m really proud of Anthony and George. I thought we worked our asses off. Too bad we couldn’t pop one or two.”

JUMPING THE SHARKS — Mario Ferraro sounded like a player intent on returning to UMass next season for his junior year. The defenseman, a second-round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2017, kept using “we” when describing the Minutemen next season, but admitted the door is still open for him to sign a professional contract. He said the decision isn’t in his hands — implying it depends on whether or not the Sharks want to offer him a contract — and he’s focused on healing from Saturday’s loss.

Fellow Sharks prospect John Leonard said he will return to the Minutemen next season. The Amherst native finished his sophomore season with 16 goals and 24 assists to bring his two-year career total to 28 goals and 68 points.

SHORT CIRCUITED — The teams combined to go 1-for-8 on the power play, generating just 10 shots. Parker Mackay scored the opener for Minnesota Duluth on the first man-advantage opportunity of the game.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM — Marc Del Gaizo was the only UMass player on the Frozen Four all-tournament team. He scored UMass’ winning goal in overtime against Denver on Thursday. Minnesota Duluth took up the other six spots with forwards Parker Mackay, Justin Richards and Billy Exell, defenseman Mikey Anderson and goalie Hunter Shepard.

BACK TO BACK — Minnesota Duluth won its third national title and second in a row. It became the first team to win back-to-back titles since Denver in 2004-05. Minnesota also won back-to back championships in 2002 and 2003, completing the double in Buffalo.

TAKE ANOTHER LOOK — There were three reviews to determine the severity of a penalty. All three were called minors instead of majors. That was a stark contrast to Thursday’s semifinal win against Denver, which featured three reviews that resulted in game misconduct calls and ejections.




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