MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 28 shots to backbone the third-ranked University of Massachusetts Lowell men's ice hockey team to Saturday night's 2-0 victory against 10th-ranked University of New Hampshire in the NCAA Northeast Regional final game at Verizon Wireless Arena.
UNH, which received an at-large bid to the tourney and advanced out of the first round with Friday night's 5-2 win against 12th-ranked University of Denver, ends its season at 20-12-7.
Hellebuyck, who stopped 59 of 60 shots in the two Regional games, was named the Northeast Regional Most Outstanding Player. He was joined on the All-Northeast Regional Team by teammates Scott Wilson and Adam Chapie, both of whom scored Saturday night, as well as Chad Rudwedel.
UNH's John Henrion (Holden, Mass.) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) were also named to the team. Both Wildcats recorded two points in the game vs. Denver. New Hampshire goaltender Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) made 26 saves against UMass Lowell.
The teams skated to a scoreless tie in the first period in which the Wildcats recorded a 10-8 shot advantage. The best scoring chance for both teams of the stanza came in the closing minutes. UML's A.J. White led a rush down the right wing and his shot from beneath the faceoff dot was stopped by DeSmith. White collected the rebound at the right doorstep, however, and made a backhanded centering pass that slipped past his teammates in the slot.
UNH, which recorded just one shot during its power play just past the midway point of the first period, nearly broke the scoreless tie in the waning seconds of the opening frame when a rising slap shot by Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) from the right point hit Hellebuyck and trickled behind him wide of the far post. Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), curling behind the net, arrived a moment too late to get a shot off the rebound.
The River Hawks pressured in the opening minute of the second period when Derek Arnold fired a shot from between the hashmarks that DeSmith blocked aside with his leg pads. Ryan McGrath's shot off the rebound was also stopped by DeSmith and then his shot from the right circle was blocked by Knodel.
In the second minute, Scott Wilson fired a shot over DeSmith and the crossbar. The puck caromed off the end glass and bounced back to the slot, where Michael Fallon's shot was blocked aside by Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.) and directed to the right corner.
UMass Lowell went on its first power play of the game at 3:04 and Wilson's screened slap shot from the right point was gloved by DeSmith at 4:35. The River Hawks sustained pressure and Riley Wetmore snapped a low wrister from the slot that DeSmith knocked away with his right leg pad.
With the teams skating 4-on-4, UML's Joseph Pendenza carried the puck down the right wing and from close range he shoveled a shot wide that ricocheted off the cage to the right post, where DeSmith covered the loose puck at 12:35.
Shortly after the teams returned to full strength, UNH's Jay Camper (Rocky River, Ohio) collected a drop pass in the right circle and his slap shot sailed off Hellebuyck over the cage. With four minutes remaining in the second stanza, Jeff Silengo (Madison, Conn.) attempted to stuff the puck inside the left post but Hellebuyck was in position to make the save.
The River Hawks pressured in the last minute of the second period and took a 1-0 lead at 19:30. From behind the net, Wilson, fed a pass to Chapie at the right doorstep but his one-timer was blocked away by DeSmith. The home team sustained possession and Wilson's wraparound attempt at the left post was denied by DeSmith. The rebound went to the stick of Wilson, who tucked a shot between DeSmith and the left post.
In the third minute of the third period, UML's Josh Holmstrom one-timed a drop pass at the right faceoff dot that DeSmith enveloped with his torso.
New Hampshire generated a dangerous scoring opportunity at 7:40 when Henrion slipped a pass from the right circle to the slot, where Camper drove a one-timer wide left of the cage. One minute later, van Riemsdyk carried the puck behind the net to the right corner and made a centering pass that trickled through the slot to the left circle, where Knodel ripped a shot that Hellebuyck kicked away with his right leg pad.
In the 12th minute, van Riemsdyk's initial slap shot from the right point was stopped by Hellebuyck and Dalton Speelman (San Jose,Calif.), with his back to the net in the slot, lifted a backhander wide left.
With 6:35 remaining in regulation, Block raced behind the UML defense and corralled a long outlet pass behind the net. He continued to the left post, where his wraparound attempt was denied by Hellebuyck.
The River Hawks extended the advantage to 2-0 at 13:58 on a quick counterattack. Xxxx broke up a UNH rush by chipping away a pass in the slot. Chapie corralled the puck in the neutral zone and advanced along the left dashers. He fended off a UNH defender through the left circle and, with arms outstretched, backhanded a shot into the upper-left corner.
DeSmith kept the 'Cats within two goals at 15:00 when he shifted to the top of the crease to deny McGrath's redirection at the top of the crease in a 2-on-1 rush.
UNH pulled DeSmith in favor of an extra skater with 2:47 remaining and called time out with a faceoff in the offensive zone with 2:01 on the clock. The Wildcats generated a total of seven shots in the last minute of play, but only two were on target and Hellebuyck stopped both.
The flurry began with Henrion's shot that tested the UML goalie and off the rebound Speelman fired a shot wide left. van Riemsdyk's blast from the right point was blocked by Holmstrom and then Knodel's shot was turned aside by Hellebuyck. The pressure continued with another van Riemsdyk shot that sailed with left and a hard shot off the stick of Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md) in the slot that went wide of the cage. Then in the closing seconds, Ruhwedel preserved the shutout as he blocked Knodel's blast from the right circle.