St­ingy de­fenses meet when UMass and Den­ver cross paths

Nei­ther has yielded a goal in NCA A Tour­ney

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER - By Miguel Ro­driguez

Puck drop: TV/Ra­dio: Records:

Coaches: Greg Carvel, eighth sea­son. 138-136-22 (52-58-4 at UMass); David Carle, first sea­son, 24-11-5 at Den­ver

Lead­ing scor­ers: UMass: D Cale Makar 16 goals-32 as­sists-48 points; F Jacob Pritchard 16-29-45; F Mitchell Chaf­fee 17-24-41. Den: F Liam Fin­lay 16-20-36; F Emilio Pet­tersen 6-24-30; F Jarid Luko­se­vi­cius 19-10-29.

Net­min­ders: UMass: Filip Lind­berg 10-3-0, 4 shutouts, .939 save per­cent­age; Den: Filip Lars­son 13-5-3, 4 shutouts, .935 save per­cent­age.

Road to the Frozen Four: UMass earned an at-large bid and No. 1 seed in the North­east Re­gion in Manch­ester, N.H. The Min­ute­men de­feated Har­vard, 4-0, and fol­lowed up by beat­ing Notre Dame, 4-0, in the re­gional fi­nal to earn a spot in their first Frozen Four. Brett Boe­ing had two goals and an as­sist in two games, while Filip Lind­berg posted back-to-back shutouts, mak­ing a to­tal of 30 saves . ... Den­ver, a No. 2 seed, ad­vanced to its 16th Frozen Four by de­feat­ing Ohio State, 2-0, and Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional, 3-0, in the West Re­gional in Fargo, N.D. Filip Lars­son posted back-to-back shutouts of 24 and 26 saves to be­come just the sixth net­min­der to achieve the feat since the NCAA in­sti­tuted the cur­rent re­gional for­mat in 2003. Colin Staub had two goals, as four dif­fer­ent play­ers have scored in the tour­na­ment.

Blue line: UMass has two play­ers drafted by NHL teams: Mario Fer­raro (San Jose) and Cale Makar (Colorado). Den­ver has six NHL Draft picks. They are Ian Mitchell (Chicago), Slava Demin (Ve­gas), Emilio Pet­tersen (Cal­gary), Filip Lars­son (Detroit), Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay), Brett Sta­p­ley (Mon­treal).

In the crease: UMass’s su­per sopho­mores lead the charge as that class has ac­counted for 135 of the team’s goals the past two sea­sons. Three of the five who led UMass in scor­ing as fresh­men rank in the top four this year: Makar, Chaf­fee and John Leonard (15 goals, 39 points). Pritchard, a se­nior, ranks se­cond in points. UMass’s spe­cial teams could tilt a close game in its fa­vor. The Min­ute­men’s power play ranks se­cond in the na­tion at 28.2 per­cent, while the penalty kill ranks fourth in the coun­try at 87.5 per­cent.

Den­ver’s strength, out of ne­ces­sity, has been its strong de­fen­sive play. The Pioneers, who av­er­age 2.8 goals per game, are 21-2 when al­low­ing two or fewer goals. They do have a big-game scor­ing threat in Jarid Luko­se­vi­cius who has 105 points in 105 games. He leads all play­ers at the Frozen Four with 62 ca­reer goals, in­clud­ing 20 game-win­ners.

Rough­ing: While spe­cial teams ap­pears to be a strength of UMass, it’s a weak­ness for the Pioneers. Den­ver ranks 48th na­tion­ally on the power play while it’s penalty kill is 21st. While Den­ver is mak­ing its 16th Frozen Four ap­pear­ance, this is un­char­tered ter­ri­tory for UMass.

Face­off: UMass’ 3.77 goals per game ranks third in the coun­try. The Pioneers may rank 21st in penalty kill but have yet to give up a pow­er­play goal in nine chances.

From the point: Den­ver is 3-0 all-time against UMass. The Pioneers’ eight na­tional cham­pi­onships rank se­cond all-time to Michi­gan (nine). UMass has set sin­gle-sea­son pro­gram records for wins (30) and power-play goals (40). Matt Mur­ray set the pro­gram mark for wins in a sea­son (20), eclips­ing the to­tal lof 19 set by cur­rent L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

Next: Win­ner ad­vances to NCAA cham­pi­onship game on Satur­day at 8 p.m.

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