Yale, UMass-Lowell into Frozen Four

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Jesse Root scored the go-ahead goal with 4:56 left and Yale beat North Dakota 4-1 on Saturday in the NCAA West Regional final to reach the Frozen Four for the first time.

Fourth-seeded Yale (20-12-3), set to face UMass-Lowell in the national semifinals April 11 in Pittsburgh, scored four times in the final 7:35.

"We're thrilled to get the win today," Yale coach Keith Allain said. "North Dakota got the early lead but I felt we were playing well throughout the game. The guys just stuck with the plan."

Josh Balch started the spree, and Root gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead on a power play, a day after scoring at 9 seconds of overtime in Yale's 3-2 victory over top-seeded Minnesota.

"Both of my goals this weekend were special," Root said. "Any time you get to move on is real special."

Stu Wilson and Kenny Agostino added goals for Yale.

"It's a great accomplishment for any team," Yale senior forward Andrew Miller said. "We've been close. Getting over the hump and actually doing this is a great feeling."

Corban Knight scored in the first period for North Dakota (22-13-7).

AP Photo/Latara Appleby/The Grand Rapids Press

Yale beat North Dakota 4-1 on Saturday in the NCAA West Regional final to reach the Frozen Four for the first time.

"It's difficult to have a clear perspective of this," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "Yale played an outstanding game."

Anthony Day added two assists for Yale.

Yale outshot North Dakota 39-25. The Bulldogs had a 25-16 advantage after the first two periods, but were constantly frustrated by the North Dakota defense and goaltender Clarke Saunders.

"I just told them, 'Keep doing what you're doing,'" Allain said.

"We wanted to push it and find ways to score that second goal," Hakstol said. "That would have been a game-changer."

Saunders wound up with 35 saves for the Fighting Sioux. Jeff Malcolm stopped 24 shots for Yale.

Yale almost didn't make the postseason and entered the 16-team NCAA national tournament this week as the final seed. The Bulldogs had been outscored 8-0 in two losses last weekend before entering the NCAAs.

"We have a young team and that helps us bounce back from tough weekends," Miller said.

"I can tell you a lot. I'm a firm believer that actions speak louder than words," Allain said. "I think you saw it for six periods and nine seconds the mental makeup of this hockey team. We were behind all game and didn't get a bounce until Balch broke through at the end and that tells you a lot about this group. That's what makes them special."

Allain, a former NHL and Olympics assistant coach, is the third Yale graduate to be coach of the team.

"I probably wouldn't be coaching in college hockey if it wasn't for the Yale job," he said. "I was pretty comfortable working in the National Hockey League. But Yale hockey has meant the world to me and will continue to be so. This was very special."

Northeast Regional

UMass-Lowell 2, New Hampshire 0

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."

New Hampshire was without forwards Grayson Downing and Kevin Goumas, who both took hits to the head Friday in a 5-2 win over Denver. Goumas led the Wildcats in points with 42 points, and Downing tied for the team high in goals with 15.

With two of its top three scorers out of the lineup, New Hampshire struggled against UMass-Lowell's tight checking. When the Wildcats did get a decent scoring chance, Hellebuyck was always there to stop it.

DeSmith matched Hellebuyck almost save-for-save until Wilson poked in his own rebound near the end of the second period. New Hampshire remained within a goal until late in the third when Chapie skated the puck the length of the ice, got around defenseman Brett Kostolansky and lifted a backhand between DeSmith's pad and blocker with 6:02 left to play.

"I don't even remember how it got on my tape, but it ended up there," Chapie said. "I just tried to drive wide and get the puck to the net. It just happened to go in.

The UMass-Lowell fans who made the 30-mile trip north started chanting "U-M-L! U-M-L!" as the time ticked away. New Hampshire pulled DeSmith with less than 3 minutes to go but the extra skater was little help against the River Hawks' defense.

"Two goals they say is the worst lead in hockey. You've still got to work hard and we knew that UNH was going to come back," Chapie said. "We stuck together and at the end of the game we had a huge shift from all our guys on the ice, blocking shots and trying to get it out. And our goaltender was playing unbelievable."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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