Frozen Four 2013: From Four to Two

On the first day we watched Yale's Jesse Root score a goal nine seconds in overtime to beat Minnesota, UMass-Lowell completely dismantle a surging Wisconsin, North Dakota score twice in the last period to squeeze by Niagara, and New Hampshire bury four goals in a row to blow by Denver.

On the second day we watched St. Cloud State roll over Notre Dame, Yale score four to pull off the upset over North Dakota, Miami shutout Minnesota State, Quinnipiac score three late goals to squeeze by Canisius, UMass-Lowell blank New Hampshire, and Union end the reigning-champions, Boston Colleges', season.

By the end of the second day, both Yale and UMass-Lowell had punched their tickets to Pittsburgh, allowing them to wait and watch as four more teams fought for the final two spots.

On the final day of regionals, day three, we watched St. Cloud State's Joey Benik score twice to blow by Miami, and Quinnipiac's Matthew Peca earn a natural hat trick to send the Bobcats over Union.

The Frozen Four was set.  Yale would square off against UMass-Lowell, while St. Cloud State would battle Quinnipiac for a spot in the national championship game.

So who are the remaining two?

Photo: NCAA Associated Press
Frozen Four Recaps:

Yale Upsets UMass-Lowell in OT, 3-2.

The Yale Bulldogs continue their tear as they upset UMass-Lowell, sending home their third team.  Bulldog captain Andrew Miller scores the overtime goal to send his team to compete for their first title in school hockey history.

Photo: NCAA Associated Press

(1-12:55) Mitch Witek scored first off a shot from the top-left circle on the powerplay.  It looked as though Kenny Agostino would tip the puck, but replay denied the tip and gave the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead.  Assists would go to Carson Cooper and Andrew Miller.

(1-19:08) Before the period would expire Yale would score again.  Antoine Laganiere buried Matt Killian's rebound as their man-advantage expired.  The puck was shot from the left corner and rebounded straight out front to Laganiere's waiting twig to put the Dogs up, 2-0.

(2-14:38) - The River Hawks hit the board off a twisting backhand from Riley Wetmore.  Derek Arnold took a rushed shot from the blue line where Wetmore was waiting.  The puck hit the pads of goalie Jeff Malcom, spitting the puck to Wetmore who flung it off his backhand for the lead-cut, 2-1.

(2-14:52) Just 14 seconds after UML's first goal, Joseph Pendenza blasted a wrister by Malcom.  The play came off a beautiful no-look, behind-the-back pass and tied the game, 2-2.

(OT-6:59) Yale captain Andrew Miller ended the sudden-death overtime game with an impressive goal, making the final 3-2.  Miller picked up a puck that was flipped off the boards and out of the Yale zone and right onto Miller's stick, who skated around freshman dman Greg Amlong, to slide the puck through Hellebuyck's five hole.

Game Talk:

YU - “It was our game plan going in to just take shots and get to rebounds and shoot through traffic,” explained Yale's Antoine Laganiere. “We did that the whole game and it ended up working out for us.”
UML - “They just kind of kept coming in waves,” said UMass-Lowell's Joseph Pendenza. “They did what we usually do to other teams. It was a taste of our own medicine I guess.”
YU - “It was as good as an effort as we've had,” exclaimed Bulldog coach Keith Allain said.  "I thought that we were as much as we created offensively, I thought we were rock solid defensively. A lot of our offense was because of the fact that we defended so well that we had the puck and they did not.”

Pillow Puck Talk:

Before the first TV timeout, which happened nearly eight minutes in, there was about two whistle, making for a very mediocre back to back start.

UMass-Lowell's fast-paced and highly skilled offense failed to shine for most of the game.  They hung back and let Yale come to them.  Even on the powerplay it looked as though there were four white sweaters near the blue line, anticipating a man-advantage turnover.

Photo: NCAA Associated Press
UML's goalie Connor Hellebuyck suffered his third and final loss of his freshman career, but played an outstanding game.  The one "soft" goal he let in was covered by the numerous saves that he probably shouldn't have come up with.

UML's Joseph Pendenza notched a goal for River Hawks, but also set a couple unbelievably close scoring chances for his team.  One of a few members of the losing team that played a very good game of hockey.

Yale's Mitch Witek scored not only his first goal of the season, but the first goal of his career, which was also the first goal of the game.  Talk about one helluva first time experience, aye?

Yale's Kenny Agostino was quiet when it came to the scoreboard, but was easily one of the best skaters on the ice.  He made a couple tricky passes and quick shots that confused the camera man.  Easily one of the most noticeable players on the ice.

Although Hellebuyck, Agostino and Pendenza made their fair share of noise throughout the game, the MVP of the night goes to Yale captain Andrew Miller, who finished the game with two points, including the overtime tally that sent the Bulldogs to the final for the first time in 23 years.

This makes the 3rd straight year that a team with the nickname "Bulldogs" will advanced to the championship game.  Minnesota Duluth, Ferris State and now the Yale Bulldogs.

Photo: NCAA Associated Press

Quinnipiac Dismantles St. Cloud State, 4-1.

Quinnipiac was able to score three goals very early in the game before St. Cloud State found the scoreboard.  The Bobcats will send the Huskies packing and look toward Saturday where they'll play for the first title in Quinnipiac hockey history.

Photo: NCAA Associated Press

(1-1:49) Quinnipiac's Jordan Samuels-Thomas kicked the scoring off just seven seconds into their man-advantage, giving them the early lead, 1-0.  Samuels-Thomas was able to score after picking the puck out of a battle along the boards, wrapping around goalie Ryan Faragher's left and putting the puck between his legs.

(1-5:07) Ben Arnt would earn the eventual game winning tally, pushing the score the hockey's most dangerous lead.  Samuals-Thomas tried another wrap-around, much like scored on the first time, but the puck deflected off a Husky and onto Arnt's stick, who put the Bobcats up, 2-0.

(1-11:19) Quinnipiac continued to pepper pucks, giving way to Jeremy Langlois's tally to increase the lead even more, 3-0.  An all around great offensive play between Langlois and Zach Davies, who together broke the puck out, Davies took the shot and Langlois buried the juicy rebound.

(2-6:25) Joey Benik put St. Cloud State on the board, finally, to cut the Bobcats lead, 3-1.  Kevin Gravel was able to make a beautiful pass across the slot to Benik, who showed an amazing amount of patience waiting for the puck until he put a shot over goalie Eric Hartzell.

(2-14:31) Kellen Jones sealed the scoring by adding the dagger goal and finalizing the game, 4-1.  A perfect pass from Zach Tolkinen sent Jones in against SCSU's Andrew Prochno, whom he skated around, across the top of the crease and sealed the deal for the Quinnipiac Bobcats.

Game Talk
QU - “There are just so many things that have worked in our favor this year,” explained Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “It’s a proud moment for the Quinnipiac University hockey program. I’m just real proud of my guys.  I don’t think we played perfect, but we battled and found a way to score some goals."
QU - “I think for this year, we want to prove that we have what it takes to be the best and win that last game,” said Bobcat blue-liner Zack Currie. “I don’t think it’s so much that we have something to prove. It’s something we want to prove to ourselves. And if we prove that to everybody else, that’s a bonus.”
SCSU - “When you bury yourself, it’s going to be difficult to get back,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko. “We want to go back and re-play the first 11 minutes.”
Pillow Puck Talk

St. Cloud State was getting a variety of decent scoring chances throughout the game, but failed to convert on the many opportunities, some due to a bouncing puck.  Ben Hanowski had a couple decent attempts at burying pucks, but fell victim to the many pucks that were fanned on, missed the net, or shot into Hartzell's chest.

Photo: NCAA Associated Press
The Husky defense started off the game very, very poorly.  Yale was allowed to skate freely through the neutral zone without the agitating backcheckers on their tale, giving the Bulldogs what seemed to be an odd-man rush for a large number of 1st period drives.

When St. Cloud State showed a little bit aggression, their top forwards really showed how dangerous they can be.  Between Ben Hanowski, Nic Dowd, Drew LeBlanc and the freshman combo of Benik and Kalle Kossila, the Huskies had the talent, but failed to put the puzzle together.

Quinnipiac won because they came into the game more prepared, and it showed.  The Bobcats were able to pick apart the Huskies defense and take away Faragher's vision by clogging the net with larger players.

Quinnipiac's Eric Hartzell played a good game, but his highlight of the night comes when the Huskies pulled Faragher.  Hartzell got the puck and actually took a reconizable shot directly towards the empty net, but was denied by Drew LeBlanc before it could leave the zone.

Bobcat Ben Arnt took a slashing penalty in the first period that snapped Ben Hanowski's stick in half.  The slash could have chopped through a couple logs.  Well, not literally but you catch my drift.  Much like grandma takes a wack with a fly swatter.

Hartzell has now started 21 games without a loss.

Photo: NCAA Associated Press

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