PITTSBURGH -- The Yale Bulldogs were the team doing most of the standing around and watching during the first 10 minutes of Thursday's Frozen Four opener, but two power-play chances in the latter half of the period and a few lazy mistakes by UMass-Lowell have Yale up, 2-0, after 20 minutes.
Yale freshman defenseman Mitch Witek saved an otherwise dull Bulldogs power play a little more than midway through the period, putting a rather benign puck on goal. Calgary Flames prospect Kenny Agostino put a screen on UMass-Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, and the puck just squeaked right through the pads to give Yale a 1-0 lead.
Then, late in the period and with Yale again on the power play, Lowell failed to clear the puck out of the zone and the Bulldogs capitalized. Hellebuyck gave up a rebound, and senior forward Antoine Laganiere -- a top free agent target for NHL teams beginning either Friday or Sunday, depending on when Yale's season ends -- won the race to the loose puck. He jammed it past the River Hawks' freshman goalie to give Yale a 2-0 lead. It wasn't technically a power play goal as the clock had just expired on the man advantage.
Lowell has allowed just five goals in six games playoff action so far this season, not including the two Yale goals, but the River Hawks have shown an ability to win games after coming from behind. They beat Maine twice in the Hockey East opening series and did the same against Providence in the conference semifinal, but those were just one-goal deficits, and nobody will argue that Yale isn't a superior opponent to either Maine or PC.
Yale let off the gas against Minnesota in the third period of their NCAA Tournament opener, allowing two goals before ultimately winning in overtime. We'll see if Lowell has a similar push over the next 40 minutes.