Minnesota Duluth beats Providence 4-1 in NCAA semifinals

Frozen Four hockey: UMass and Minnesota Duluth will vie for NCAA men's ice hockey championship

UMass will continue its record-breaking season after defeating Denver in a Frozen Four semifinal, 4-3, in overtime on Thursday night.

The freshman defenseman caught a pass from Oliver Chau at the top of the left circle and smoked a one-timer past Denver goaltender Filip Larsson to send the Minutemen to their first-ever national championship game.

"This is probably the coolest moment of my life", Del Gaizo said. "Right now, it seems like I'm dreaming". There was no other way the freshman defenseman could put into perspective the role he played in helping MA advance to college hockey's Frozen Four championship game for the first time in school history.

The victory continued turning around a Hockey East program that hadn't previously won more than 21 games and was two years removed from a 5-29-2 finish in its first year under coach Greg Carvel. Both freshmen were coming off two shutouts in region play. We went deep into that overtime period.

The Pioneers held a 9-7 shots advantage in the second period and got another extended power play, but failed to chip away at the UMass lead.

Denver struck first, grabbing a 1-0 lead with 11:31 remaining in the first period on Colin Staub's power play goal. The Bulldogs are attempting to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Denver in 2004-05. Teams without a bona-fide offensive star typically show it in overall offensive and that's the case here, as their plus-51 goal differential (130 GF, 79 GA) doesn't jump off of the page like UMass' plus-71 (151 GF, 80 GA).

Del Gaizo scored 15:18 into overtime to seal a 4-3 victory over Denver in a semifinal game that ended just after midnight Friday.

It took all of 83 seconds for UMass to strike again, once again on the 5-on-3. With Chaffee ejected from the game and the Pioneers on another five-minute power play, they tested Lindberg late in the period, but didn't score. Eighteen seconds later, UMass led 3-1 and had all the momentum as John Leonard fired a shot through traffic that gave Larsson the slip.

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A mere 32 seconds after Barrow's major, UMass' Bobby Trivigno tied the game, tipping a shot by Jacob Pritchard with Denver goalie Filip Larsson screened. "Those are our two biggest players".

"We have a lot of guys who have played on big stages", UMD senior Peter Kreiger said. Luckily you can dress an extra forward. Minnesota Duluth only got one shot through to Hayden Hawkey, which he turned aside. "Fortunately [Del Gaizo] did for us".

UMass' best scoring chance came with 56 seconds left in the second period, when Anthony Del Gaizo came out from behind the Bulldogs' net and had several chances to stuff the puck in only to be denied by Shepard. I saw the body language, and the hanging, that mopiness, " said Carvel.

"It's a credit to them, their recruiting, getting players". It's pretty insane. To be in three in a row, I would have given anything just to be in one, just to win one, just to play in one.

"It's incredible, I'll let it sink in later tonight", UMD senior captain Parker Mackay said. Change. One goal, next goal wins.

"I asked them to take a look at it", Carle said. That's as resilient as you can be. The Minutemen advanced to the NCAA title game for the first time in program history. That's a hell of a sign. This team, they've done things all year long that have impressed people and impressed me. "To see how excited they were to have their last game be a successful one, it would just mean everything".

The Minutemen - who feature this season's Hobey Baker Memorial Award victor, sophomore defenseman Cale Makar, and Spencer Penrose Award winning coach, Greg Carvel - are seeking their first national championship in program history.

BC-HKC-NCAA-Minnesota Duluth-Providence 1st Ld-Writethru, 733Minnesota Duluth beats Providence 4-1 in NCAA semifinalsAP Photo NYJB102, NYJB103, NYJB104, NYJB107Eds: Minnesota Duluth 4, Providence 1.

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