One half of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four is set: Yale and UMass Lowell.
Whoever completes the other side of the bracket will also be a first-time national semifinalist, which means there will be a first-ever national champion for the second time in three years, following Minnesota-Duluth’s first national title in 2011.
Past favorites and perennial contenders such as Boston College, New Hampshire, Notre Dame, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin are already gone this year.
Yale went further than it has in 61 years by scoring four unanswered third-period goals to oust North Dakota, 4-1, and win the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich. as a fourth seed.
Jesse Root, the hero in Friday’s overtime win over Minnesota, again collected the game-winning goal, this time with just under five minutes left in the final period, after Josh Balch tied it with his third goal of the campaign at 12:25. Anthony Day had two assists for Yale, while Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist Corban Knight scored North Dakota’s only goal.
The Bulldogs won’t be the only Eastern College Athletic Conference team in Pittsburgh in two weeks time, as either Quinnipiac or Union will also represent the conference in the national semifinals following Sunday’s East Regional final in Providence. (Quinnipiac defeated Union in both of their league meetings this season.)
The top-seeded Bobcats rebounded from a 3-1 third-period deficit to edge Atlantic Hockey champion Canisius by a 4-3 count.
Kevin Bui’s goal with 5:32 remaining in regulation proved to be the difference as Quinnipiac recorded its first-ever NCAA tournament victory. Connor Jones also had a goal and an assist for Quinnipiac, while Matthew Peca and Jordan Samuels-Thomas had third-period goals, and Hobey Baker finalist Eric Hartzell made 20 stops.
Union came within a win of its second straight Frozen Four by mauling defending NCAA champion Boston College, 5-1, in the other Providence semifinal.
The Dutchmen tallied three times on the power play, while Josh Norris notched two goals in all, including the game-winner early in the second stanza, as Union led 4-0 after 40 minutes. Troy Grosenick finished with 29 saves for the Dutchmen, while Hobey Baker finalist Johnny Gaudreau had the only goal for the Eagles.
UMass Lowell punched its tickets to its first-ever Frozen Four with a 2-0 win over Hockey East rival New Hampshire in the Northeast Regional final in Manchester, N.H.
Scott Wilson’s wraparound goal with 30 seconds left in the second period put the River Hawks ahead, and Adam Chapie iced it on a backhander off a solo rush with just over six minutes left in the final session. Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves to earn the shutout, his sixth of the season that tied him for the national lead.
St. Cloud State, the fourth seed in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, advanced to the final by upending Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff champion and regional top seed Notre Dame, 5-1.
Joey Benik scored twice for the Huskies, while Ben Hanowski registered a goal and an assist for the last Western Collegiate Hockey Association team now left standing in the tournament. Mike Voran had the sole goal for the Fighting Irish.
SCSU will face the final CCHA team left in the tournament, Miami (Ohio), in the regional final on Sunday. The Redhawks blanked Minnesota State, 4-0, as Ryan McKay made 20 saves, Austin Czarnik set up two goals, and Max Cook had a goal and an assist. Miami is also the last CCHA team overall, as the league is set to disband following the completion of the NCAAs.