ALBANY, N.Y. — Quinnipiac is in its second Frozen Four in four years after defeating the UMass-Lowell River Hawks 4-1 on Sunday in the last regional final to finish the bracket for Tampa.
Landon Smith, Sam Anas and Scott Davidson scored in a three-goal second period for the Bobcats, who outshot the River Hawks 35-15 in the East Regional final.
2016 NCAA East Regional
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Lowell struggled to get opportunities on net — the Bobcats defense blocked 13 shots and threw bodies in the lane to prevent quality opportunities.
“Their layers are obviously tough to penetrate, you saw by the shot totals. I thought we passed up on a lot of shots,” Bazin said. “You just can’t do that against these guys. You have to get direct pucks to the net front, and we just didn’t do that today.”
UMass-Lowell edged the pace of play through the first 20 minutes, taking an early lead and preventing goaltender Kevin Boyle from facing high-quality chances.
“We missed the net a lot in the first period,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We needed to hit the net more. We were getting good chances. They would float some guys, stretch some guys.
“I think we had to deal with that a little better. In the end, I told them we needed to stay the course. I thought it was an excellent period. I thought we were outstanding.”
Midway through the second period, Lowell’s Dylan Zink, who scored a power-play goal in the first, rushed in on a breakaway after departing the penalty box. It was a prime opportunity for the River Hawks to tie the game at 2-2, but the defenseman was stopped by a forceful blocker save by Michael Garteig.
“I thought it was the turning point of the game,” Bazin said. “He’s one of our best on a breakaway. You couldn’t as for a better guy to be going down and Garteig made a good play.”
Garteig, named the all-regional team goaltender and the regional’s Most Outstanding Player after giving up one goal on the weekend, credited the defense for limiting the shots he had to face.
“This weekend, I personally thought tonight was one of the best games we played the entire year,” he said. “I think it was only 15 shots; I really didn’t have to do much. It’s a credit to those guys in there. That was awesome, that was pretty cool. In a game like that you have a trip to Tampa Bay on the line, and they show up like that? It’s impressive.”
After Zink scored on a power play in the first period for Lowell, the Bobcats scored three times in 7:18 in the second period to take control.
Smith tied it midway through the period, and Anas gave Quinnipiac the lead 1:38 later with a solo effort where he tucked a backhand past Boyle for his 24th goal of the season.
Davidson made it 3-1 late in the period, and Travis St. Denis put the game away with his 22nd goal of the season in the third.
“In the third period we balled back as hard as we could, we just didn’t get any bounces there,” River Hawks captain A.J. White said. “I’m very proud of how we responded after going down two goals.”
The River Hawks graduating class set a program record for wins with 100 after defeating Yale on Saturday. Those departing include captains White and Adam Chapie, as well as record-setting goaltender Boyle. The impacts of that core, including a Frozen Four appearance in 2013, pushed Lowell into the upper echelon of the Hockey East.
“It’s a special group. There’s a good group of six seniors who have done a whole bunch for this program,” Bazin said. “The winningest class in program history, enough said. They did a great deal and they will be very proud in the years to come.”