Men’s ice hockey tops UMass Lowell in East Regional Final

Men's ice hockey tops UMass Lowell in East Regional Final

Max Molski

Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey is advancing to its second-ever Frozen Four after defeating the UMass Lowell River Hawks 4-1 in the East Regional Final at the Times Union Center in Albany on Sunday night.

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“I thought that’s one of the better games we’ve played this year, a full 60 minutes” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “The guys were really battling and working hard [on] faceoffs and everything. Good attention to detail, so we’re excited to move on.”

Sam Anas, who replaced Thomas Aldworth in the Quinnipiac lineup just minutes before the game, went to the penalty box 1:45 into action. UMass Lowell made Quinnipiac pay, scoring on its first shot on goal. Dylan Zink ripped a one-timer past Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig, who stopped all 27 shots he faced in last night’s win over the Rochester Institute of Technology, on the power play to give the River Hawks the early lead.

Despite the early penalty, Anas was able to make amends and propel Quinnipiac to the Frozen Four.

“It was kind of a stressful weekend, but in the end, it’s playoff hockey,” Anas, who made the All-Tournament Team, said. “A chance to go to Tampa, it’s the best time of the year. I don’t think there was any way I was going to let myself not play.”

Landon Smith tied the game up for Quinnipiac midway through the second period. He took a feed from Anas and wristed a shot into the left side of the net for his third goal of the postseason.

“Sam is a huge part of our team,” Smith said. “To see him come out, battle through an injury and see him do the things he does well, it really picks up the bench and picks up the boys.”

Anas scored a goal of his own just 1:38 later. He took the puck up the left side, deked UMass Lowell goalie Kevin Boyle and flipped it into the net with the backhand for his 24th goal of the season.

“On that goal, the defenseman stepped up at the red line and I was able to poke it by him,” Anas said. “Two-on-one with Landon, the defenseman gave a little breakaway with the goalie. We’ve been talking that the goalie likes to over-challenge and so I gave him a little fake shot, pulled to my backhand and was able to get it past him.”

Zink nearly tied it up for the River Hawks late in the period. He left the penalty box and was free on a breakaway. Garteig stifled him and kept the game at 2-1.

Garteig earned Most Outstanding Player on the All-Tournament Team after allowing just one goal over two games in the East Regional. Along with his personal tear as of late, the netminder said the team looked as good as it has all season in Sunday’s win.

“I personally thought tonight was one of the best games we’ve played the entire year,” Garteig said. “I think [I faced] only 15 shots. I didn’t have to do much. It’s a credit to those guys out there. They were awesome.”

Scott Davidson sniped a goal from a tight angle on the right side to give Quinnipiac the 3-1 lead with 2:09 left in the period. He skated between the faceoff circle and the red line and picked the right corner to beat Boyle for his third goal in as many games.

Travis St. Denis sealed the 4-1 win for the Bobcats. He was left alone in front of Boyle, faked the shot and slid it under the goalie’s reaching stick for his 22nd goal of the season with under four minutes remaining.

With the win, the Bobcats will face off against the Boston College Eagles in Tampa Bay, FL at 5 p.m.. on April 7 with a chance to advance to their second national championship game. Pecknold said that this win did not compare to the team’s first advancement to the Frozen Four in 2013, but noted that it takes nothing away from Sunday’s win.

“I’m elated. I’m ecstatic that we’re going,” Pecknold said. “I feel so happy for our guys and our alums.”

*To see The Chronicle’s full photo album from the game, CLICK HERE.

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