Friday, March 29, 2013

First Day of NCAA Tournament in the Books

They did it again.

Three years after upsetting North Dakota by a 3-2 score in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., Yale University did the same to Minnesota, this time in overtime in Friday's NCAA West Regional semifinal in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Kenny Agostino had a goal and an assist for Yale, and set up Jesse Root's one-timer in front for the game-winner just nine seconds into the extra session, setting an NCAA Tournament record. Yale was shut out in both games in last week's ECAC Championship in Atlantic City, and made the NCAAs as the 15th overall and final at-large seed only after Michigan was eliminated in the CCHA final.

The Bulldogs will play now North Dakota on Sunday, after UND escaped with a 2-1 victory over Niagara despite 41 saves by Purple Eagle netminder and Hobey Baker Memorial Award Finalist Carsen Chubak. Fellow Hobey Bakey finalist Danny Kristo tallied the game-winning goal on a third-period wraparound to break a 1-1 tie.

At the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., Hockey East regular-season and playoff champion UMass Lowell came within a game of the Frozen Four for the second straight campaign by crushing WCHA Tournament champion Wisconsin by a 6-1 count. Connor Hellebucyk made 31 saves for the victorious River Hawks, including one on a penalty shot. UML got goals from six different skaters in all, while racing out to a 3-0 lead in the second period before adding three more goals in the third session.

UML will now face Hockey East rival New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon, following the Wildcats' 5-2 victory over Denver in the second Northeast Regional semifinal. After the Pioneers took a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play, UNH responded with four unanswered scores, with Daltan Speelman notching the deciding marker with 22 seconds left in the second period. Casey Thrush scored UNH's first and fifth goals, the last one into an empty Denver net with 2:20 remaining in regulation.

The East and Midwest Regionals both get underway on Saturday, with their finals to be contested on Sunday. In Providence, No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac will face Canisius, while ECAC Tournament champion Union will play defending NCAA champion Boston College. In Toledo, CCHA playoff king Notre Dame will take on St. Cloud State, while CCHA regular-season titilist Miami (Ohio) will square off with Minnesota State.

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