Miami Drops Overtime Heartbreaker in NCAA Tourney
March 23, 2012
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - After rallying from a 3-0 deficit in the third period to level the game, the second-seeded and No. 7 Miami hockey team looked poised to complete a historical comeback but UMass Lowell's Riley Wetmore scored 2:13 into overtime to propel the third-seeded and No. 13 River Hawks to a 4-3 win in the NCAA East Regional Semifinals Friday night at Webster Bank Arena. Miami, making its seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance, ends the season 24-15-4 while UMass Lowell (24-12-1) advances to Saturday's regional final against Union College.
The RedHawks trailed by three goals just 2:21 into the second period but scored three unanswered in a seven-minute stretch in the third period to make it a 3-3 game. Miami then had a chance to win in regulation when UML's Jake Suter was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind with 3:35 left in the third stanza. The `Hawks bombarded River Hawk netminder Doug Carr with six shots on the power play to close regulation but time after time he came up with big saves to force overtime.
In the extra session and still on the man advantage, the RedHawks again nearly won as junior forward Reilly Smith sat unmarked on the back post but his one-timer went wide of the open net. Senior defenseman Cameron Schilling than clanged a laser off the crossbar. The River Hawks finally killed the five-minute Miami power play and less than a minute later, David Vallorani fired a shot on net that senior goalie Connor Knapp saved. The rebound squirted free however and Wetmore was on the doorstep to poke it in, giving UML the victory.
Miami struggled out of the gate as the River Hawks controlled play early. Just 1:25 into the contest, UML earned a power play after a roughing penalty on freshman forward Tyler Biggs. The River Hawks wasted no time capitalizing on the man advantage as Terrence Wallin rung a shot off the crossbar and Josh Holmstrom was alone on the other side to bury the rebound for a 1-0 UML lead 1:34 into the game. UMass Lowell appeared to make it 2-0 just over three minutes later but the goal was waived off for goaltender interference on the River Hawks, keeping Miami within one.
UML did make it 2-0 14:58 into the opening period on a short-handed, unassisted goal by Colin Wright. Freshman forward Austin Czarnik turned the puck over at the blue line, Wright poked the puck ahead and was off to the races. He skated in on the breakaway and beat Knapp five-hole to double the River Hawks' lead.
The middle period started similar to the first as UMass Lowell upped their lead to 3-0 just 2:21 into the second stanza. The River Hawks gathered the puck in transition and created a 2-on-1 break. Vallorani hit Wetmore on the fly with a saucer pass and Wetmore fired the puck past Knapp's glove, adding to UML's advantage.
Just when it looked like the RedHawks were dead in the water, Miami scored two goals in 14 seconds to close within one. First, junior forward Curtis McKenzie carried the puck down the ice and into the offensive zone before dropping it off for senior forward Trent Vogelhuber between the circles, where he buried a wrister to make it a 3-1 contest just 3:06 into the third frame. It was just his fourth goal of the year. After the ensuing faceoff, Czarnik intercepted a UML pass on the blue line and skated the other way on a breakaway, beating Carr backhand to cut the deficit to one at 3-2 on his 10th goal of the year.
Senior forward Alden Hirschfeld then completed the comeback, knotting the game at 3-3 with 10:04 left in the third period on his 11th goal of the year. After Miami killed a penalty, junior defenseman Steven Spinell stepped out of the box and grabbed the puck creating a 2-on-1 break. He dished to Hirschfeld, who skated in alone and beat Carr on the back hand.
The RedHawks finished with a 33-30 advantage in shots, including 18-8 in the third period, but couldn't complete the win. Knapp stopped 26 shots in his final game as a RedHawk while Carr totaled 30 saves. UML went 1-for-5 on the power play while Miami finished 0-4.
Miami's 10-man senior class finishes with 99 career wins, which is fourth in school history. The class made four NCAA Tournaments, went to two Frozen Fours, won the school's first Mason Cup and won a CCHA regular season title.