ALBANY, N.Y. – Junior forward Joe Gambardella (Staten Island, N.Y.) notched the game-winning overtime goal, as the UMass Lowell River Hawks (25-9-5) clipped Yale (19-9-4), 3-2, to advance to the Regional Finals, Saturday night at the Times Union Center in front of 5,326 fans.
“I want to congratulate Yale on an outstanding season, they are a great opponent and gave us everything they had tonight,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin. “It was a great game and I thought we came out the right way. We had a power play opportunity we could have converted, but their defensemen made a couple of great saves. I thought the game went back and fourth in the second period and the third period went back and fourth and came out on the right side of it.”
With the win, the River Hawks will advance to the Regional Finals for the first time since 2013, where they topped New Hampshire, 2-0, to advance to the programs first ever Frozen Four.
UMass Lowell broke open the scoring just 4:27 into the opening period after senior Michael Fallon (Glenview, Ill.) beat goaltender Alex Lyon left side for the 1-0 lead. Senior forward A.J. White (Dearborn, Mich.) kept the play alive after digging the puck out from behind the net and dishing it to sophomore forward Michael Louria (Wexford, Pa.), who found Fallon for his second tally of the season.
The River Hawks kept Yale quiet for most of the first but a turnover in their defensive zone resulted in a Yale goal that knotted the scored, 1-1, at 15:19 in the first.
The Bulldogs skated into the first intermission with a 9-8 edge in shots and a 14-12 advantage in faceoffs.
After seven minutes of scoreless action to begin the second period, Yale’s Ryan Hitchcock posted the lone goal of the period to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 2-1, at 12:18 in the second.
The two squads found themselves in another stalemate, after Gambardella cleaned up a loose rebound in front of the net with his first goal od the contest to make it a 2-2 game. Gambardella raced down the ice in a 2-on-1 situation with sophomore forward C.J. Smith (Des Moines, Iowa), eventually tapping in a lose rebound off of Smith’s initial shot.
When neither squad could net the game-winner in regulation, the two teams headed into the locker rooms tied 2-2 in preparation of sudden death over time.
All it took was 97 seconds in overtime for UMass Lowell to punch their ticket to the Regional Finals. Gambardella picked up his second tally of the contest after connecting with sophomore forward John Edwardh (Calgary, Alberta) for the game-winning goal.
Senior goalkeeper Kevin Boyle (Manalapan, N.J.) recorded 35 saves in the outing to pick up his 25th win of the season.
Saturday’s contest marked the 13th meeting between UMass Lowell and Yale, as the River Hawks extend their lead to 9-4-0 in the all-time series. UMass Lowell is back in action Sunday, March 27 at the Times Union Center where the squad will take on Quinnipiac in a 7:30 p.m. contest.