Freshman G Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) was named the Most Valuable Player as he stopped 28 shots to lead No. 1 UMass Lowell over No. 2 New Hampshire, 2-0, Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament Northeast Regional Championship in front of 8,357 at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Sophomore F Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) and freshman F Adam Chapie (Oxford, Mich.), who joined Hellebuyck on the All-Tournament Team, provided the goals while junior D Chad Ruhwedel (San Diego, Calif.) was also named to the team.
With the victory, UMass Lowell advances to the Frozen Four Friday, Apr. 11 and Sunday, Apr. 13 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. The River Hawks will face Yale (19-12-3), a 4-1 winner over North Dakota in the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
UMass Lowell improved to 28-10-2 as Hellebuyck posted his sixth clean sheet of the season, matching the school record set by former standout Cam McCormick in 2001-02.
The victory avenged the season series, which UNH swept with a 3-0 victory in Lowell, Nov. 16; a 5-2 win in Durham Nov. 30; and a 5-2 victory in Lowell Dec. 1.
Quality opportunities were few and far between in the majority of the pensive first two periods as both teams combined for a total of 33 shots, UMass Lowell with an 18-15 edge.
Wilson, who has had a hand in three of UMass Lowell's four goals, broke the drought with 29 seconds left in the third period. Sophomore G Casey DeSmith turned aside a slapshot from the right point by Ruhwedel, but Wilson picked up the rebound from behind the goal and wrapped around to DeSmith's stickside for the 1-0 lead.
Both teams continued on the offensive and Hellebuyck was at his best with four minutes gone in the third period when he kick-saved a deflected shot by junior D Eric Knodel from the right point.
Knodel again tested Hellebuyck midway through with a one-time off a back pass from the left circle headed for Hellebuyck's glove side, but the goalie read the build-up well and calmly kicked aside.
Chapie, who netted a goal in Friday's 6-1 win over No. 4 Wisconsin, scored the backbreaking goal 13:58, the beneficiary of nice work from Wilson. With UNH mounting a threat, Wilson broke up the play with a diving poke-check to Chapie, who raced up the ice and backhanded past DeSmith while holding off a defenseman.
Equally impressive was the UMass Lowell defense which blocked 13 shots and kept its collective poise as the Wildcats threw numbers forward as time dwindled. UNH pulled DeSmith with 2:47 remaining to no avail.
Shots were even at 28 apiece as DeSmith had 26 saves.