UMass in complete control of Notre Dame, advances to first Frozen Four

  • Massachusetts forward Jake Gaudet, top right, is congratulated by Oliver Chau (20) and Mario Ferraro (5) after his goal against Notre Dame during the second period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts forward John Leonard (9) fakes Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris (32) as he sets up his goal during the second period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris (32) drops to his knees as the puck passes through his legs on a goal by Massachusetts forward Jake Gaudet during the second period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts forward John Leonard (9) pumps his fist as he skates past the Notre Dame bench after his goal during the second period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts goaltender Filip Lindberg (35) looks back as a shot by Notre Dame forward Cam Morrison (26) goes wide, as Massachusetts defenseman Marc Del Gaizo (2) keeps tight, during the first period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts forward Jacob Pritchard (14) and Notre Dame defenseman Matt Hellickson (5) chase after the puck during the first period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts forward Anthony Del Gaizo (12) threads between defenders as Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris (32) covers the puck during the first period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. At top is Notre Dame defenseman Matt Hellickson (5), at bottom right is Notre Dame forward Cam Morrison (26). (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts goaltender Filip Lindberg (35) makes a save on a shot by Notre Dame forward Jack Jenkins (28) during the first period of an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts players jump over the boards in celebration after shutting out Notre Dame in an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. UMass won 4-0. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Players skate in celebration toward Massachusetts goaltender Filip Lindberg (35) after the team's 4-0 win over Notre Dame in an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Massachusetts goaltender Filip Lindberg (35) is congratulated by teammates after shutting out Notre Dame in an NCAA Division I men's ice hockey regional game in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, March 30, 2019. UMass won 4-0. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2019 12:07:30 AM

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The final brick in the road to Buffalo was paved with one deflection off a linesman’s skate.

Mario Ferraro was trying to play the puck around the boards to Jake Gaudet as UMass entered the zone on a power play. The puck took a little more direct route instead and the carom off the skate blade landed directly into Gaudet’s path. It was the type of puck luck the Minutemen didn’t really need Saturday, but it gave them a well-deserved break in the game.

Gaudet buried his shot after two strides with the puck and UMass did what it does best and piled on to Notre Dame’s misfortunes. The Minutemen scored three times in a dominant second period that gave them the stranglehold they needed to choke off any hope for the Fighting Irish. UMass completed its weekend trip to SNHU Arena with a 4-0 win over Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional final, booking its spot in the Frozen Four for the first time in program history. UMass will play Denver, which beat American International in the West Regional final.

“That was maybe as complete a game that we’ve played this year,” coach Greg Carvel said. “This weekend I thought we were outstanding for 120 minutes. I thought we controlled the play for two complete games.

Much like Friday’s regional semifinal against Harvard, UMass (30-9-0) came out the better team but didn’t cash in on its chances. Notre Dame evened the play for a bit at the end of the first period, but it was skating on tilted ice as soon as the puck dropped in the second period.

The Minutemen’s aggressive hockey took its toll during the middle stanza as the Fighting Irish began to struggle to sustain any offense. Notre Dame had just two shots in the decisive second period, tying for the fewest in a period in the Northeast Regional. Meanwhile, UMass peppered Cale Morris with 16 shots in the middle stanza while forcing him to make several important saves to keep the deficit within reach.

“Going into this game we wanted to get a good start,” sophomore forward John Leonard said. “Get pucks to the point and just keep firing away at the net. We continued to do that all night until we got that first one and then we just kept going from there and finished off strong.”

It took less than three minutes after Gaudet’s tally for the Minutemen to add to their lead. Brett Boeing’s shot was easily stopped by Morris, but the rebound fell onto Leonard’s stick and the Amherst native patiently waited out the goalie before tucking the puck into the net. Four minutes later, Cale Makar’s rocket of a slapshot whizzed past Morris for a second power-play goal and the continuation of pure domination.

“College hockey is all about momentum when you get into these tournaments,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “They capitalized once they had the momentum, and they kept on pushing, and that’s the sign of a good team. … They definitely fed off of that goal and got better and we didn’t respond to it as well as we needed to.”

UMass didn’t give Notre Dame (23-14-3) much room to mount a comeback, either, with a stingy defensive performance centered around possessing the puck. The Fighting Irish put a Northeast Regional record-low 13 shots on UMass freshman Filip Lindberg, who was up to the task for his second shutout of the weekend and third in his last four starts.

The Fighting Irish seemed to tire as the game progressed and they were forced to be on the defensive for long stretches. After having to go to overtime to beat Clarkson in Friday’s regional semifinal, Notre Dame couldn’t match UMass’ speed in all three zones and couldn’t find a way to build offense off its clearances. The Minutemen nearly took advantage twice of a fatigued Notre Dame lineup, but Niko Hildenbrand rang the crossbar and Mitchell Chaffee doinked the right post in the third period.

“Possession is huge, especially in a game like (Saturday) when they played the later game and they had the overtime and they were obviously a little more tired,” sophomore defenseman Mario Ferraro said. “Being able to get the puck below the goal line and keep possession and cycle and keep their D-men moving is going to tire them out eventually. So possession is definitely a good thing, it wears them down.”

All of that possession earned the Minutemen a spot in Buffalo for the Frozen Four in two weeks. It is a dream most people within the program thought might become a reality in the offseason and then again when UMass ascended to No. 1 in the country after Thanksgiving. The entire college hockey world waited for the Minutemen to run out of gas or falter at some point.

Those setbacks became just blips on the radar for a team that has now improved by 13 wins over last year, more than the progress shown between Carvel’s first and second year.

“We knew we had a good team this year, we proved a lot of things throughout the year,” Carvel said. “But we always felt that people were waiting for us to trip and stumble and fall and we kind of did that at BC last weekend, but this weekend we redeemed ourselves. I’m extremely proud of this group, staff, players, administration, this is a first for our program and we didn’t stumble into this, we knocked the door down, and we’re headed to the Frozen Four flying high.”




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