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Denver tops UMass Lowell to set up rematch with Minnesota Duluth in NCAA regional final

Senior wing Cameron Wright poked the game-winner in to give the Pioneers a 3-2 victory over the River Hawks in Loveland.

Denver plays UMass Lowell in regional semifinal game in Loveland
Denver forward Brett Stapley (7) celebrates after scoring against UMass Lowell during the NCAA regional semifinal game on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

LOVELAND, Colo. — Denver scored two goals in the third period, with fifth-year senior wing Cameron Wright scoring the game-winner with less than three minutes left, to beat UMass Lowell 3-2 on Thursday in the second of two NCAA regional semifinals at the Budweiser Events Center.

Pioneers freshman wing Carter Mazur tossed a puck ahead into the slot and Wright, who played four seasons at Bowling Green before transferring to Denver this offseason, poked the puck toward River Hawks goaltender Owen Savory.

Wright's goal sets up a rematch against NCHC rival Minnesota Duluth at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday in the NCAA regional final in Loveland. The Bulldogs ousted the Pioneers from the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinals last Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with a 2-0 victory. It was the first of three consecutive shutouts for Bulldogs junior goaltender Ryan Fanti.

"We owe them," Wright said of UMD. "We're going to come out fast and we're going get traffic in front of the goalie. We're going to bat a couple in and find a way to score on this guy and beat them for sure."

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Lowell senior center and captain Lucas Condotta got the first goal of the night midway through the first period, but Pioneers senior center Brett Stapley tied the game with 1:24 to go before the first intermission.

A snipe by sophomore wing Carter Savoie while both sides were down a skater 9:26 into the third period gave Denver its first lead of the game, however, Lowell pressured the Pioneers net with under six minutes to play and fifth-year senior center Connor Sodergren knocked a puck past Denver junior goalie Magnus Chrona to tie the game back up.

"They didn't make it easy. It was it was a really challenging game, and for that I give our players a ton of credit for sticking with it," Denver coach David Carle said. "We've not been in a lot of these really tight games this year. So for us to be able to break through, stick with our game plan, for these two (Wright and Savoie) to get big goals in the third period — our penalty kill, our goaltender, I thought were exceptional — they were all big for us in the third and major factors of securing a victory."

Savoie's strike came between a pair of key penalty kills by Denver in the third period. Mazur was initially called for delay of game after covering the puck with his hand, and then Stapley was ejected for buttending Sodergren after getting cross-checked. Sodergren also landed in the box — but got to return to the game, unlike Stapley, who could face supplemental discipline for the major penalty and game misconduct — resulting in a 4-on-3 power play for Lowell.

A three-minute 5-on-4 power play for Lowell followed the Savoie snipe, but the River Hawks couldn't convert.

"Where we were in the third, I was pretty comfortable with it, and we give one up off the power play," said Lowell coach Norm Bazin. "That was the difference."

Savory finished with 25 saves for Lowell while Chrona stopped 16 shots for Denver.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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