MANCHESTER, N.H. — Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots and UMass-Lowell advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time with a 2-0 victory over New Hampshire in the NCAA Northeast Regional final Saturday night.
Scott Wilson scored with 30 seconds left in the second period, and Adam Chapie added a goal with 6:02 left in the third, providing more than enough offense for UMass-Lowell (28-10-2) and its freshman star in net.
“You don’t go anywhere this time of year without a great goalie and we have one,” said coach Norm Bazin, who took over at his alma mater last season after the River Hawks went 5-25-4 in 2010-11.
Hellebuyck has allowed only four goals in six postseason games for the Hockey East champion River Hawks, who lost all three regular-season meetings against New Hampshire (20-12-7). Hellebuyck played just one period of that series, coming off the bench of a 5-2 loss on Nov. 30.
The River Hawks surged shortly after that, sweeping the Hockey East regular-season and tournament championships and earning the top seed in the Northeast. On Saturday, UMass-Lowell extended the best season in school history by reaching the national semifinals for the first time as an NCAA Division I program.
“It’s a great feeling. Everyone here has a big smile on their face. It’s huge for our program and it’s huge for our school,” said Hellebuyck, 20-2-0 as the starter. “We knew what we needed to do and I think we brought it. We really worked hard from that puck drop.”
The River Hawks will play Yale in the Frozen Four debut for both schools April 11 in Pittsburgh.
Casey DeSmith had 26 saves for the Wildcats, who have reached the tournament in four of the last five seasons and lost in the regional finals each time.
“We’ve been here one too many times in this situation where we won the first game and then lost,” New Hampshire captain Connor Hardowa said. “Credit goes to them on this one. But I thought we played a pretty good game and there were just a couple mistakes here and there that cost us the game.”