Upstarts headline Frozen Four field

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A new national champion will be crowned at a wide-open Frozen Four April 11 and 13 at Consol Energy Center.

Four teams that have never won a national title advanced from regional sites this past weekend to the Frozen Four, capping a season that has seen a dramatic shift of power.

No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac earned the final berth late Sunday night, after St. Cloud State, Yale and Massachusetts Lowell.

Yale came out of the West Region Saturday, advancing for the first time since 1961 by ousting North Dakota, 4-1.

The Bulldogs will face Massachusetts Lowell, winners of the Northeast Region, at 4:30 p.m. April 11.

St. Cloud State won the Midwest Region Sunday as the No. 4 seed.

The field was finalized later Sunday when top seed Quinnipiac routed Union, 5-1, to win the East Region.

Quinnipiac will play St. Cloud State at 8 p.m. April 11.

Yale got two winning goals by Pittsburgh native Jesse Root over the weekend -- one in overtime Friday against Minnesota, followed by one Saturday in a 4-1 win against longtime power North Dakota.

Root's winner Saturday came with 4:56 left.

"Both of my goals this weekend were special," Root told the Associated Press. "Anytime you get to move on is real special."

Yale's program dates to the 1890s, and is the only team of the four to previously make a Frozen Four -- the Bulldogs did that once in 1952 and finished third.

Massachusetts Lowell was led by goalie Connor Hellebuyck, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound freshman, who had 28 saves Saturday in a 2-0 victory against New Hampshire. He has allowed just four goals in six postseason games.

"Connor's been outstanding. You don't get very far, and you certainly don't get to the Frozen Four without great goaltending," said coach Norm Bazin after the win. "Things will sink in here the next few days. However, for the school it's priceless.

"I mean every sport is moving to Division I and it's exciting for the school to see what big-time Division I is all about."

Lowell knocked off Wisconsin, 6-1, Friday in a regional semifinal.

The field was finalized Sunday.

St. Cloud State got two goals each from linemates Joey Benik and Cory Thorson in a 4-1 win against Miami of Ohio to advance as the No. 4 seed in the Midwest.

The winner came off of a slap shot by Benik just five minutes into the game to give St. Cloud State a lead, and they never looked back.

"It's a great moment for our program. St. Cloud's been awful close," coach Bob Motzko said. "It was a tremendous hockey game. It turned into a defensive battle down the stretch, which it had to."

His team boasts one of two Hobey Baker finalists that will be coming to Pittsburgh in Drew LeBlanc.

Quinnipiac, meanwhile, defeated Union and will ride a storybook season to Pittsburgh.

Matthew Peca scored three goals in a span of 3:12 in the first period -- the fastest hat trick in NCAA tournament history.

Goalie Eric Hartzell, who is a Hobey Baker finalist, had several key saves in the win.

NOTE -- Massachusetts Lowell assistant coach Jason Lammers is a 1994 graduate of North Allegheny High School.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter: @JennMenendez.


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