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March 22, 2014

UNH, UMass Lowell meet in Hockey East final

BOSTON — Sophomore goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 35 shots to lead second-seeded UMass Lowell to a 4-0 win over eight-seeded Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Hockey East Championship at the TD Garden last night.

Defenseman Christian Folin and Zack Kamrass each had a goal and an assist to return the defending champion River Hawks (24-10-4) to their fifth appearance in the title game and second straight. They will play fourth-seeded New Hampshire today at 7 p.m. in the championship game.

UNH won its semifinal over third-seeded Providence 3-1.

The River Hawks (24-10-4) have allowed just one goal in its last three games at TD Garden, including a shutout streak of 171:01 dating back to the last season’s semifinal victory over Providence.

Hellebuyck, last year’s William Flynn Tournament MVP and a first-team Hockey East All-Star this winter, recorded his fifth shutout this season and the 11th of his career. He blanked BU 1-0 in last year’s Hockey East championship contest. The sophomore leads NCAA goalies in save percentage and goals against average,

UMass Lowell, which is 1-3 in four previous title games, will try to become the first team other than Boston College to repeat as league champions since New Hampshire won back-to-back titles in 2002, ‘03.

The Fighting Irish (23-13-2) allowed the fewest goals in conference games during the regular season and entered last night 8-1-1 over their past 10 games.

They outshot the River Hawks 35-22 but UMass Lowell went 2 for 2 on the power play while killing two bids by Notre Dame.

A wrist shot by Folin at the 10:13 mark of the first period to give the River Hawks a 1-0 edge.

Derek Arnold made it 2-0 just under four minutes later. Arnold scored the game-winning goal in last year’s title game and is just three points shy of 100 for his career.

Notre Dame had a slim 10-9 edge in shots in a penalty-free first period before the River Hawks cashed in on the first penalty of the contest 3:25 into the second when Evan Campbell scored. The River Hawks have scored at least one power play goal in five consecutive games.

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