BC rolls behind Johnny Gaudreau

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Having coached Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau in junior hockey, Denver coach Jim Montgomery knew what the Pioneers might be in for against the top-seeded Eagles.

Even Montgomery, who Friday compared Gaudreau to Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, had to be surprised by Gaudreau's performance in Boston College's 6-2 victory Saturday in the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal.

Gaudreau, who had a 31-game points streak snapped by Notre Dame two weeks ago in the Hockey East tournament, scored 25 seconds into the game, went on to his first college hat trick and also had three assists to match his career high in points and come within a point of matching the NCAA tournament record.

He and linemates Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold combined for 13 points as BC (27-7-4) advanced to the final Sunday against No. 2 UMass Lowell, a 2-1 winner over Minnesota State-Mankato.

Asked after the game what he needs for next year, Montgomery said, "Johnny Gaudreau," and then made it clear he meant he'd like "a clone" and not the real thing.

"Their top line was phenomenal tonight," Montgomery said. "They made high-end plays and there's a reason that those guys will end up playing at a higher level and making a lot of money."

The Eagles, upset two weeks ago by Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament, were coming off their second long layoff in the past month. But any chance of this team being rusty was quickly erased by Gaudreau and his linemates, who scored all six goals as BC built a 6-0 second-period lead.

BC is trying to win its third national title in the past five years, its fifth of the 2000s.

Gaudreau, drafted by the Calgary Flames, came into the game with 15 two-goal games, seven this season. He capped his hat trick 8:13 into the second period.

He scored his first goal wide-open in front, the second by sweeping his way to a wraparound and the third from behind the net banking it in off goalie Sam Brittain.

"I was kind of excited to play in the game and I didn't want to send Kevin and Billy out of their BC careers without a good run for this championship," Gaudreau, a junior, said about his senior linemates. "That's kind of what's pushing me, is trying to help them get a national championship.

"It's hard not to produce on the score sheet when you're playing with Kevin and Bill."

The line has been together for 24 games -- and has 122 points

Hayes had two goals and two assists, and Arnoldhad a goal and two assists Saturday.

The Eagles easily ended Denver's season, after the Pioneers (20-16-6) came in off winning the NCHC tournament in Montgomery's first year on the job.

It was Denver's seventh straight trip to the tournament.

"We knew in order to have success today we would have had to have played perfect hockey," Montgomery said. "Unfortunately, Boston College played perfect hockey."

Trevor Moore and Evan Janssen scored for Denver, as freshman BC goalie Thatcher Demko made 18 saves in his first NCAA tournament game.

"I'm really proud of our group, who has been able to win a championship and add to the tradition of Denver hockey," Montgomery said.

UMass Lowell holds off Minnesota State-Mankato

WORCESTER, Mass. -- After surviving a tight game against Minnesota State-Mankato, UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin and the River Hawks were ready to focus on the all-Hockey East regional final against Boston College.

"We do know our opponent. They're a great hockey team," Bazin said after his second-seeded River Hawks beat Minnesota State 2-1 in the Northeast Regional semifinals Saturday night. "They're regular-season champions for a reason, and it just so happens that we're the playoff champions so it should be a good matchup."

Top-seeded Boston College beat Denver 6-2.

The teams played twice late in the regular season, with BC winning 3-0 and tying 2-2.

"It should be an unbelievable final," Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said.

While BC was upset by Notre Dame in the Hockey East quarterfinals, Lowell won that tournament, with goalie Connor Hellebuyck posting two shutouts at TD Garden

Hellebuyck, who leads the nation with a 1.71 goals-against average and .944 save percentage, ran his shutout streak to 201:45 before giving up a goal with 10.8 seconds left Saturday night -- and made 35 saves in winning a goaltending battle with Minnesota State's Cole Huggins.

"He played out of his head," said Huggins, who made 33 stops and kept the River Hawks from extending a 1-0 lead that resulted from Joe Pendenza blocking a shot by Matt Leitner and then beating Huggins on a short-handed breakaway in the first period.

That goal held up and UML (26-10-4) made it 2-0 when defenseman Zack Kamrass hit the empty net from his defensive faceoff circle with 40.9 seconds left.

But then given a power play, Zach Stepan scored with 10.8 left on the clock. The Mavericks then had a faceoff to Hellebuyck's left with 2.2 seconds left but nothing came of it.

Hellebuyck is 11-2 in postseason play in his two seasons with the River Hawks. His overall record is 38-11-2 and he just missed his 13th shutout.

The River Hawks, who reached the Frozen Four last season, ended Minnesota State's 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) and kept the Mavericks from earning the program's first NCAA Division I tournament win -- on their third try. The WCHA champs have reached the past two NCAA tournaments.

"Really no regrets other than not moving on," said Hastings, whose team finished 26-14-1. "I thought the guys laid it out there. We knew [Hellebuyck] was going to be good and he was good. We had some second and third opportunities that he did a good job of keeping out of the net."

Talking about his freshman goalie, Hastings said, "I know everybody is talking about the guy who won the game tonight, and well deserved, well deserved. He put up some scary numbers. But I think if you go ahead and stack Cole's numbers in the last, now 14 games, they're comparable. It was a great battle tonight."

Huggins, who played 13 of the final 14 games, finished his rookie season by allowing just 17 goals in his past 13 games, not counting the empty-netter.

Minnesota routs Robert Morris in NCAA West

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota earned the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament with strong goaltending and a balanced offense. The Gophers used the same formula Saturday night to advance to the West Regional final.

Nate Condon scored twice and Adam Wilcox made 22 saves to help the Gophers beat Robert Morris 7-3.

The Big Ten regular-season champion Gophers (26-6-6) will face St. Cloud State Sunday for a spot in the Frozen Four.

Minnesota has four players with 13 goals this season after six Gophers found the net Saturday. Condon, a senior captain, had his first two-goal game in over a year, and Kyle Rau, Mike Reilly, Hudson Fasching, Michael Brodzinski and Justin Kloos also scored.

"It was one of those games where everybody contributed like you have to have this time of year," coach Don Lucia said. "The teams are too good this time of year and the games are magnified. If you don't have everybody in your lineup playing well it's hard to keep advancing."

Robert Morris (19-18-5) kept the pressure on early but Wilcox -- the Big Ten player of the year -- held up until the Minnesota offense came through with three goals in under 4 minutes late in the first period.

Condon opened the scoring with a beautiful end-to-end rush for his eighth goal of the season. He picked up a loose puck behind his own goal line, broke out of his zone and wove his way through the defense before firing a shot from the top of the left circle that beat goalie Dalton Izyk, who was screened by a defenseman.

Brodzinski made it 2-0 with a blast from the blue line, and Kloos scored off a rebound to give the Gophers a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.

"I was told by some coaches that had coached against Minnesota, `If you let them score one, you have to have some bounce-back shifts, because one can turn into three,'" Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. "I think we saw that in the last 4 minutes of that period."

Cody Wydo and Zac Lynch scored for Robert Morris late in the second period to cut it to 4-2, and David Friedmann added a goal in the third after Minnesota had made it 5-2. But the Gophers outshot the Colonials 50-25 and kept the puck in the Robert Morris zone most of the night.

The Colonials were making their first NCAA tournament appearance in just the 10th year of the program's Division I history.

Nic Dowd's OT score sends St. Cloud State over Notre Dame

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nic Dowd scored with 2:39 left in overtime to give St. Cloud State a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday night in the NCAA West Regional semifinals.

Dowd, a Hobey Baker Award finalist who leads the Huskies with 22 goals, fired a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Steven Summerhays high.

"At this point, any shot's a good shot," said Dowd, whose Huskies (22-10-5) will play top-seeded Minnesota on Sunday for a spot in the Frozen Four. The Gophers beat Robert Morris 7-3.

St. Cloud State was outshot 36-12 in regulation before turning the tables on the Irish with a 16-6 advantage in overtime. Huskies coach Bob Motzko said their slow start might have been caused by too much rest -- St. Cloud State lost in the first round of the NCHC playoffs and had two weeks off before Saturday's game.

"We scored quite a few goals this year and we have a team capable of doing what we did in overtime," Motzko said. "It just started to work."

The winning goal came after David Morley forced a Notre Dame turnover at center ice and found Dowd streaking down the left boards.

"Once I got it I heard Dowd just yelling, flying down the wall there," Morley said. "I just passed it to him, stood there and watched him work his magic."

Ryan Papa, Brooks Bertsch and Jonny Brodzinski also scored, and Ryan Faragher made 39 saves for the third-seed Huskies.

"He's been a rock all year," Dowd said of Faragher. "That breakaway save in overtime, it doesn't get any better than that. It gives us new life and a couple minutes later we're able to tuck one in."

Bryan Rust, Kevin Lind and Thomas DiPauli scored for Notre Dame (23-15-2). Summerhays made 24 saves.

The Irish dominated possession and outshot the Huskies 42-28 but they never led. The teams traded goals throughout, with St. Cloud State taking the lead and Notre Dame tying it three times. DiPauli scored the only goal in the third period, tying the game at 3 with 10:25 to play in regulation.

"As much as I tried to calm down the troops going into overtime, I thought we were playing high-risk," Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. "We were trying to do too much. Guys were trying to be the hero and it kept on coming back at us."