Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck named Tournament MVP with 30 saves for River Hawks

Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for the River Hawks

BOSTON, Mass.-- Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) had another shutout and A.J. White (Dearborn, Mich.) scored one goal and set up two others to lead second-seeded UMass Lowell to a 4-0 victory over fourth-seeded New Hampshire in the title game of the 30th annual Hockey East Championship Saturday night in front of 12,051 at TD Garden. The championship was the second-ever and second straight for the River Hawks (25-10-4) who posted two straight 4-0 decisions on the weekend.

A sophomore, Hellebuyck was a unanimous selection as the 2014 William Flynn Tournament Most Valuable Player becoming the first-ever in 30 tournaments to earn the award more than once. For the second straight season he recorded a shutout in the title game, another first, by stopping all 30 UNH shots.

Hellebuyck was joined on the All-Championship team by teammates White, Joe Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) who had three assists tonight and defenseman Christian Folin (Gothenberg, Sweden) as UMass Lowell becomes the seventh team to win back-to-back championships in league history.

The Wildcats (22-18-1) had the jump early out-shooting UML 10-4 at the start. New Hampshire came up empty on the game's first good scoring chance midway through the first when Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif) and Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) broke in on together but failed to direct the puck on goal.

From there the River Hawks took over. Shortly after at 12:12, they got on the board first on a goal by flipped an innocent low shot from the right side that was stopped by UNH goalie Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.). Before DeSmith could cover the puck at his feet, White poked the puck passed him. Just 3:20 later Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, Colo.) made it 2-0 for UMass Lowell, finishing after a two-on-one by Pendenza and White. DeSmith made a sprawling save on Pendenza's shot before Holmstrom, the trailer on the play, rapped it home for his sixth of the season.

UMass Lowell took control of the contest with two more in the middle period, one early and one late. Joe Gambardella (Staten Island, N.Y.) converted a feed from Terrence Wallin (Yardley, Pa.) 3:13 into the stanza and Jake Suter (Lac du Flambeau, Wisc.) cashed in on the power play with 1:17 remaining. Pendenza controlled a faceoff to White, who dropped it back to Suter who blasted it in for a 4-0 advantage at the second intermission.

The River Hawks continued the attack to start the third before UNH earned a couple of breaks. Twenty-eight seconds in a goal by Holmstrom was overturned after a video review and at 3:36, Pendenza drew a penalty shot that was denied by DeSmith.

Then it was Hellebuyck's turn to hold the lead and keep UNH off the board denying two point blank bids midway through the third. He closed out the period with nine saves to earn the clean sheet, the first time a goalie and a team has recorded back-to-back shutouts in the tournament semifinal and final.

DeSmith finished with 26 saves before being replaced by Jeff Wyer (Reading, Mass), who had five stops in the last five minutes. UMass Lowell outshot UNH, 35-30, for the game. The River Hawks were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed two penalties of its own.

Joining the UML foursome on the all-tourney team were UNH forward Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) and Notre Dame defenseman Stephen Johns.

Notes: UMass Lowell earns an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship. The selection show is Sunday at noon and will be televised nationally on ESPNU and online at ... UML has made five trips to the NCAA Division I Tournament, including a Frozen Four appearance last year ... The River Hawks were making their fourth title game appearance and their third since 2009, while New Hampshire earned its eighth trip to the championship game and first since 2007 ... 2014 marked the first time in all 30 tournaments that the title game did not feature at least Boston College, Boston University, or Maine ... UMass Lowell swept all three meetings with New Hampshire this season by a combined score of 12-5, after UNH won all three meetings last season ... Saturday was just the second-ever title game matchup between a No. 2 seed and a No. 4 seed (2010) ... The Wildcats were just the seventh No. 4 seed to reach the title game ... Connor Hellebuyck has recorded three straight shutouts at TD Garden, posting back-to-back playoff shutouts for just the third time in league history. He has stopped 129 consecutive shots since his last goal against at TD Garden (first period of the 2013 semifinal vs. Providence), which is a span of 230:01 straight shutout minutes ... UML's top line of A.J. White, Joe Pendenza, and Josh Holmstrom combined for seven points and a plus-6 rating in the win. Pendenza skated in his 150th career game ... UNH senior Kevin Goumas, who was also an All-Tournament selection, led the tournament with seven points scoring five goals in the final three games ... The River Hawks finished the tournament 6-for-16 (38%) on the power play and have scored at least one power play goal in six straight games ... The Hockey East Tournament Champion has advanced to the Frozen Four 19 times in 26 trips, and 14 have reached the NCAA title game with six winning the National Championship