Frozen Four Semifinal Recap

Yale stuns UMass-Lowell in overtime:

“They gave us a taste of our own medicine.”

Those were the words used by Joseph Pendenza of the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks.

UMass-Lowell came into the tournament 3rd overall in the NCAA rankings.  They’ve been able to comeback from being down in so many games this season.

In this game, however, UMass-Lowell just couldn’t keep up.

“They have an excellent hockey team, and we just didn’t have our legs in the first period,” said captain Riley Wetmore.

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller [photo: Yale Sports Publicity]
The Yale Bulldogs came out firing in the first period.  They were beating the Riverhawks to pucks, playing chippy, constantly forechecking and backchecking which caused UMass-Lowell to make some mistakes.  Those mistakes led to the first collegiate goal by Mitch Witek and another by Antoine Laganiere.

In the second, the Riverhawks managed to find a lucky bounce in front of the net that captain Riley Wetmore buried.  Just 14 seconds later, Joseph Pendenza sniped a shot coming down the right wing and the game was knotted at 2 heading into the 3rd period.

The 3rd period was rather uneventful and extra time was needed.

It wouldn’t take long to finish the game when Yale captain, Andrew Miller got a fortunate hop off the defender’s stick, drove the net and slipped the puck past Connor Hellebuyck.

“I think we stopped them in transition a bit, came across, and I think it caught a defenseman flat footed.  They have a really good goaltender, and he played a really good game.  But it’s a great team goal, I think.  We were able to put one past them, and it’s an honor to move on,” said Miller about his game winner.

“Up until right now before we play Saturday night, that’s probably the biggest goal in the history of Yale hockey,” Coach Allain said about Miller’s goal.  “Andrew has been a great player for us all four years, but he’s made a remarkable transformation into a leadership role this year.”

Allain continued, “Assuming the captain’s seat and the way he’s done it by including the entire senior class, he does a great job with our group, not just on the ice, but he monitored them off the ice.  He makes sure they’re going to class and doing the right thing all the time and they’re prepared to play.  I can tell you, I couldn’t ask for a better captain.”

Now they just needed to sit back and see who would come out the winner between Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State.

Quinnipiac Bobcats show why they were ranked #1:

The game was over after the first period.

The top ranked Quinnipiac looked fantastic early in the game.  They were consistently beating the St. Cloud Huskies to loose pucks, outplaying them along the boards, and being backstopped by Hobey Baker candidate, Eric Hartzell certainly didn’t hurt their cause.

The Bobcats jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first and the Huskies just couldn’t recover.  Joey Benik of St. Cloud was able to sneak a puck past Hartzell in the 2nd period, but the Bobcats were able to tack on a goal of their own.  The score would end in a 4-1 win for Quinnipiac as they sealed their spot in the National Championship game against the Yale Bulldogs.

With the win the NCAA National Championship game will feature two ECAC teams.  But Jordan Samuels-Thomas, the first star of the game, doesn’t want to think of it that way.

Eric Hartzell [photo: John Hassett]
“To be honest with you, I’m not really looking at it like an ECAC thing.  For Saturday night, it’s going to be Quinnipiac vs. Yale.  We hope to end up on top,” said Samuels-Thomas in the press conference.

The National Championship matchup will be the 4th meeting between the two schools this season, of which, Quinnipiac has won the past 3.

Coach Pecknold said, “We’re 3-0 against Yale.  Some people might say that’s great for Quinnipiac, and I would say that’s really tough to beat somebody 4 times in a row.”

Pecknold continued, “The one thing I’ve seen from Yale, I’ve watched both their games, Minnesota and North Dakota and the game tonight, and this is a different team than when we beat them in Atlantic City.  They’ve got some new jam.  They’re competing hard.  They’re doing some things, and have some players that are on a different level than they were three or four weeks ago.”

The championship game will take place on Saturday at 7pm.

Follow Shawn Reznik on Twitter: @ShawnTHW