UMASS LOWELL ADVANCES TO NORTHEAST REGIONAL FINAL WITH 6-1 WIN OVER WISCONSIN
Freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck makes 31 saves for River Hawks
Freshman G Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) stopped 31 shots while No. 1 UMass Lowell received goals from six different players in defeating No. 4 Wisconsin, 6-1, Friday in the NCAA Tournament Northeast Regional first round at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
With the win, UMass Lowell (27-10-2) advances to the quarterfinal and will meet the winner of No. 2 New Hampshire and No. 3 Denver, who meet in the second game at 8:00, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., televised live on ESPNU.
The victory (27th) signified a Division I era-record for the River Hawks. It also marked the fourth straight time UMass Lowell advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.
Hellebuyck improved to 19-2-0 for the season and, with help from the River Hawk defense, held an opponent to two goals or less for the 17th time this season.
UMass Lowell and Wisconsin entered the game as the two most successful teams since the holidays: the River Hawks entered the game 20-3-1since Dec. 26 while Wisconsin compiled a 20-5-1 clip.
The River Hawks, who have scored 27 first-period goals this season, lit the lamp 12:49 into the first period off nice work from junior F Joe Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.), who broke free down the left side and wristed inside the far post past the glove side of sophomore G Joel Rumpel.
With UMass Lowell nursing the 1-0 lead, Hellebuyck showed his mettle twice, robbing the Badgers on both occasions. At 15:45, senior winger Ryan Little took a pass from behind the net and unleashed a one-timed shot, but Hellebuyck read it well and parried wide.
The Badgers were awarded a penalty shot at 16:11 when senior F Riley Wetmore (Swanton, Vt.) was judged to have brought down junior F Jefferson Dahl on a breakaway. On the ensuing penalty shot, Dahl tried to wrist past Hellebuyck's low stick side, but shot into the goalie's pads.
UMass Lowell countered very well and established several odd-man rushes.
UMass Lowell doubled its lead 3:12 into the second period on a counterattack, when freshman D Christian Folin (Gothenburg, Sweden) and sophomore F Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) combined for a textbook give-and-go. Folin raced up the center of the ice and flicked to Wilson on the left, who returned the pass as Folin, cruised by a defender and wristed past Rumpel's glove side.
Just 19 seconds later, the River Hawks averted disaster when junior winger Tyler Barnes wristed off the crossbar, only for Hellebuyck and sophomore D Jake Suter (Lad du Flambeau, Wis.) to smother.
Midway through the second period, Wilson and freshman winger Adam Chapie (Oxford, Mich.) combined nicely on a two-on-one, resulting in Chapie wristing off the bar.
Minutes later on a shorthanded attack, Rumpel did well to snuff a breakaway by junior F Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who was brought down on the play.
Still the River Hawks attacked relentlessly and it paid off again. Suter released junior F Shayne Thompson (Stittsville, Ont.) on a breakaway, who backhanded past Rumpel for a 3-1 cushion.
Wisconsin pulled one back 8:19 into the third, seven seconds after Wilson was sent to the box for charging. Freshman D Nic Kerdiles meandered into the slot and wristed past Hellebuyck's stickside.
UMass Lowell continued its attack undeterred. Just 1:13 later, Holmstrom redirected Wilson's shot from the point on a power play, but was the goal was waived off for a high stick.
Junior F Derek Arnold (Foxboro, Mass.) provided the fourth goal at 13:56, however, when freshman F Ryan McGrath (O'Fallon, Mo.) crossed from the left side and Arnold tapped home past Rumpel's glove side.
Wisconsin pulled Rumpel for the extra attacker with 1:25 remaining, kept Hellebuyck on edge with several chances, but Chapie's pressure on a clearance paid off when he grabbed a loose puck and wrapped around into the empty net.
McGrath scored UMass Lowell's sixth goal with three seconds remaining.
The Badgers outshot UMass Lowell 32-26 as Rumpel stopped 20 shots.