MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) – Connor Hellebuyck stopped a first-period penalty shot and finished with 31 saves to help UMass-Lowell rout Wisconsin 6-1 on Friday night in the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinals.
Joseph Pendaza, Christian Folin, Shayne Thompson, Derek Arnold, Adam Chapie and Ryan McGrath scored for the top-seeded River Hawks (27-10-2). They will play Hockey East rival New Hampshire on Saturday for spot in the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh. New Hampshire beat Denver 5-2 in the second semifinal.
The River Hawks survived being outshot 11-4 in the first period, then pounced on Wisconsin’s mistakes in the second and third, turning a close game into a blowout at the end.
“Our team bent but it never broke in the first period and I felt our goaltending gave us a chance,” UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin said.
Nic Kerdiles scored for fourth-seeded Wisconsin (22-13-7) in the third period, ending Hellebuyck’s shutout streak at 165 minutes, 20 seconds.
“He’s been playing unbelievable for us. He’s been our rock back there,” said forward Scott Wilson, who assisted on Folin’s goal in the second period. “When you see one go by, you know it’s not going to faze him and you know the next shift he’s ready to go again.”
Joel Rumpel made 20 saves for the Badgers. They took a six-game winning streak into their first NCAA tournament since losing to Boston College in the 2010 championship game.
“They’re young men. They want to do so well. I think it’s part of their growth,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. “Sometimes young men get out of their comfort zone and do things that they shouldn’t. We paid a high price for it.”
Rumpel had almost no offensive support as the Badgers failed to capitalize on the few mistakes made by Hellebuyck, mostly rebounds that were swept away before any Wisconsin player could get to the puck.
Hellebuyck preserved a 1-0 lead 4:39 left in the first when he stopped Jefferson Dahl on a penalty shot.
Kerdiles pulled Wisconsin to 3-1 with 11:41 left in the third on a power-play goal. It was the first goal allowed by Hellebuyck since 11:01 remained in the first period of the River Hawks’ 2-1 win over Providence in theHockey East semifinals a week ago.
Arnold scored for UMass-Lowell with 6:04 left, Chapie added an empty-netter in the final minute and McGrath finished it off with 3 seconds to play.
Thompson put UMass-Lowell up 3-0 when he scored just before crashing into Rumpel with 5:52 left in the second. Thompson, the net, goalie and Dahl, who was trying to catch up to Thompson, all went sliding into the boards in a pile.
The goal withstood a video review that showed Thompson getting off the shot before making any contact with Rumpel or the net.
UMass-Lowell is playing in its second straight NCAA tournament and fifth overall.