Yale Siege Overwhelms # 3 UMass – Lowell In NCAA Semifinal


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UMass – Lowell center MICHAEL FALLON (20), the 21-year-old freshman from Glenview, Illinois, and his opposite number from YALE UNIVERSITY, Pittsburgh native and 23-year-old junior center JESSE ROOT (20), follow the puck into the corner during the closely-contested 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament semifinal clash that required overtime to decide at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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A very well-taken, to speak nothing of well-deserved, goal seven minutes into overtime settled a match that was far more one-sided than the final score could ever begin to reflect as surging Ivy Leaguers YALE UNIVERSITY outlasted the reigning Hockey East champion as well as # 3 ranked UNIVERSITY of MASSACHUSETTS – LOWELL 3-2 and secured its berth in the Final of the annual NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament for the first time in the 65-year history of the excitement-filled competition.

UMass – Lowell, the first-time conference champion who never before had advanced to the Frozen Four on three prior appearances at the NCAA’s prestigious post-season tourney, were in the midst of its most successful campaign ever having already won a school record 28 games this season. The River Hawks had been enjoying a good run of form as evidenced by the 6-1 wipe out of six-time NCAA champion Wisconsin and the 2-0 shutout of host New Hampshire in the Northeast Regional bracket. Facing off against pesky Yale in Pittsburgh, in fact, UMass – Lowell had won seven on the trot and not lost since dropping a 3-0 decision to Providence College in early March.

But the River Hawks, who had been seeking a fifth NCAA national championship title for a Hockey East school in the past six years, would be completely stifled at the semifinal stage of the NCAA tournament virtually the entire time by the relentless forechecking pressure of their Connecticut-based counterparts from the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. UMass – Lowell consistently struggled to successfully move the puck out of its own end and had no answer whatsoever for the energy and work rate of the Bulldogs, who actually almost skated its way right out of this year’s Sweet 16 On Ice after turning in a dreadful performance at the final tournament of the ECAC post-season playoffs this spring. Having already upended both Minnesota and North Dakota, a pair of schools that have won a combined 12 NCAA national championship titles between them, however, Yale always looked like a very determined team skating against the River Hawks in the city where the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio water ways all converge.

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Yale University’s Canadian legionnaire ANTOINE LAGANIERE (28), the native of Quebec who netted 34 times in his last two seasons for the Ivy League champion Bulldogs, snaps the puck over UMass – Lowell netminder CONNOR HELLEBUYCK (31), the 19-year-old freshman who fashioned sensational numbers (24 ga, 1.37 avg, .952 save pct) this term, to score the second goal of this 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament semifinal match at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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Indeed, Yale capitalized on its very first power play opportunity of the semifinal after UMass – Lowell left wing SHAYNE THOMPSON was banished to the penalty box for high-sticking almost eleven minutes into the opening period. Bulldogs defenseman MITCH WITEK, the 20-year-old freshman from Downers Grove, Illinois, who was playing in just his twenty-first collegiate contest this term, picked an outstanding moment to register his very first career goal for the Yale University varsity with a long shot from the right point that was screened. Yale doubled the margin with less than a minute remaining in the first period when Canadian legionnaire ANTOINE LAGANIERE, the senior right wing from L’Ile-Cadieux, Quebec, who was destined to sign a free agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League, garnered a rebound in the slot and quickly flicked the puck over beleaguered River Hawks netminder CONNOR HELLEBUYCK to score the 15th goal of his senior season.

The Bulldogs continued to swarm all over the ice in the middle period but UMass – Lowell, to its tremendous credit, hauled themselves level with a deadly two-goal spurt in the second half of the second frame at the Consol Energy Center. River Hawks right wing DEREK ARNOLD, the homegrown junior from Foxboro who scored the only goal of the game in the 2013 Hockey East Final against Boston University, took a long, hopeful shot from the point that was redirected onto the stick of center RILEY WETMORE in front. The undrafted senior from Swanton, Vermont, who would soon join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American Hockey League, easily beat Yale shot-stopper JEFF MALCOLM on the backhand to become UMass – Lowell’s joint top goal-scorer this season with 16 strikes at the 14:38 mark of the second period. Just 14 seconds later, JOSEPH PENDENZA, the homegrown junior center from Wilmington who finished as the River Hawks’ second-leading scorer with 38 points this season, took a nifty, no-look behind-the-back pass from freshman A.J. WHITE and whipped a wrist shot past Malcolm from right faceoff circle.

Beginning with the very moment the puck was dropped to begin play in the third period, the game-winning goal always seemed to be only a matter of time for dominant Yale University, who outgunned UMass – Lowell by a decisive 40-18 margin in the sixty minutes of regulation play and took all seven shots in the overtime period, as well. Hellebuyck, the 19-year-old freshman from Commerce, Michigan, who was the fifth round choice (# 130 overall) of the Winnipeg Jets at the 2012 NHL Draft last summer and honored as Hockey East Goaltender of the Year for the 2012/13 season, did all he could to hold the River Hawks in the NCAA semifinal at the Consol Energy Center. A hesitant moment of indecision at the blue line would prove to be lethal to UMass – Lowell, however.

River Hawks defenseman GREG AMLONG, the 21-year-old freshman from O’Fallon, Missouri, who appeared in just 23 of UMass – Lowell’s 41 NCAA contests this season, might have been more aggressive about challenging Yale captain ANDREW MILLER for a loose puck and, instead, offered only a meek poke check while skating backwards. The Bulldogs’ senior right wing from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, easily won the duel with Amlong and blew right around the River Hawks’ rookie blueliner. A clever backhand from Miller right through the five-hole sent Yale to the NCAA Final for the very first time in the long and storied history of Bulldogs ice hockey.

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UMass – Lowell left wing RYAN MCGRATH (10), the 21-year-old freshman from O’Fallon, Missouri, who arrived in New England after skating two seasons for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League, and Yale’s senior Canadian netminder JEFF MALCOLM (33) focuses on the puck during the semifinal contest of the 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament witnessed by the crowd of 17,428 spectators at the Consol Energy Center.
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NCAA Frozen Four Semifinal
Consol Energy Center – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
YALE 3 – UMASS / LOWELL 2 … (overtime)

12:15 … YALE – Witek 1 (Cooper, Miller) – ppg
19:08 … YALE – Laganiere 15 (Killian)
34:38 … UML – Wetmore 16 (Arnold, Wilson)
34:52 … UML – Pendenza 15 (White, Holmstrom)
66:59 … YALE – Miller 17 (Cooper)

UMASS – LOWELL : Hellebuyck – Kamrass, Ruhwedel ; Amlong, Folin ; Houk, Suter – White, Pendenza, Holmstrom ; McGrath, Wetmore, Arnold ; Wilson, Fallon, Wallin ; Thompson, Wright, Chapie

YALE : Malcolm – Young, O’Gara ; Fallen, Obuchowski ; Dueck, Witek – Agostino, Root, Miller ; Orzetti, Bourbonais, Laganiere ; Balch, Wilson, Day ; Ruffolo, Cooper, Killian

Note — Canadian legionnaire CARSON COOPER, the freshman center from Bow Island, Alberta, had collected just one goal and three assists after skating in all of Yale’s first 35 contests this season prior to the 2013 NCAA semifinal match with UMass – Lowell … it was, of course, the Bulldogs rookie pivot who made a safe and solid play to bank the puck off the boards in center ice and provide senior captain ANDREW MILLER the chance to record what head coach KEITH ALLAIN, himself a former goaltender for Yale University in New Haven, has rightly designated as the single most important goal in the Ivy League school’s history.

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