March 21, 2014

UMass-Lowell 4, Notre Dame 0: River Hawks march on

By Joshua Kummins

UMass-Lowell's Derek Arnold (right, Foxborough, Mass.) celebrates his first-period goal with linemate Ryan McGrath in Friday night's Hockey East semifinal against Notre Dame at TD Garden. (Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

Final: UMass Lowell 4, Notre Dame 0

Recap: The River Hawks dominated much of the first period of play, carrying out a 2-0 lead on just nine shots on goal.

Their opening score came on a fluky play at 10:13 as sophomore Christian Folin took a shot from the center point that pinballed off Notre Dame senior defenseman Kevin Lind at the front of the net.

Senior Derek Arnold (Foxborough, Mass.) put UML up 2-0, running up the right wing and beating Irish senior Steven Summerhays on a shot off the crossbar.

Freshman Evan Campbell and sophomore Zach Kamrass each found the back of the net on power play goals in the second period to double the River Hawk lead to four. Campbell picked up a rebound alone in the slot at 3:25, before Kanrass tossed a shot to the front of the net that bounced off an Irish stick at 13:21.

Hellebuyck was forced to make 14 saves in the final stanza, but maintained the clean sheet for the fifth time this year.

Records: UMass Lowell 24-10-4, Notre Dame 23-14-2

Key Play of the Game: Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves in the contest, but several came at key points in the game to keep his shutout bid. Midway through the second period, he kept UML ahead 3-0 with a crucial post-to-post save on captain Jeff Costello.

Kummins’ Commendations: The UMass Lowell power play has been a big key to success this season and especially during the postseason (5-for-12 in three games). The River Hawks wasted no time taking advantage of their opportunities with a man advantage, setting up in the offensive zone and finding the back of the net.

Kummins’ Critiques: Notre Dame only allowed 22 shots on goal on the scoreboard, but many came from quality areas of the ice. Because of that, the Irish can call themselves fortunate to have allowed just four goals and that their season will continue in the NCAA Tournament next weekend, thanks to a strong non-conference mark.

Notes: Hellebuyck, the 2013 Hockey East Tournament Most Valuable Player and the new UML all-time shutout leader with 11, has allowed just one goal in three games in TD Garden dating back to last season. He has orchestrated the River Hawks' streak of 171:01 on Garden ice. Over three games against the Irish, he has also allowed just one goal. ... UML is a team that holds leads very well as it is 17-0-3 this season when leading after one stanza.

Final Thoughts: After winning two out of three games to eliminate top-seeded Boston College from conference championship contention, the luck of the Irish ran out in their first visit to TD Garden. UMass Lowell was simply dominant.

Next: The River Hawks will play for their second Hockey East title in as many years on Saturday night at 7 p.m., and for the first time, they won't have to beat Boston University. UML won its first-ever conference title against the Terriers last season and also played them in the 1994 and 2009 finals. 

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins