BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Riley Wetmore knocked in a rebound 2:13 into overtime to lift UMass-Lowell to a 4-3 win against Miami (Ohio) on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The third-seeded River Hawks (24-12-1) next play top seed Union on Saturday night in the East Regional final, while the RedHawks (24-15-2) exited in the first round for the second consecutive season.
“It was a good shot and I’m still not sure how the puck went in,” Wetmore said of his winner. “I just saw the guys celebrating in front of me. We were fortunate they hit the crossbar and then we came down and scored.”
UMass-Lowell killed off a 5-minute major penalty that carried over from regulation to OT. Freshman Jake Suter, the son of NHL Hall of Famer Gary Suter, exited with 3:35 left in regulation after being called for checking from behind, resulting in a game misconduct.
“I said to the guys if we kill this one off we are going to win this hockey game,” River hawks coach Norm Bazin said.
The River Hawks controlled the opening 40 minutes on the way to a 3-0 lead.
Right wing Josh Holmstrom gave UMass-Lowell a 1-0 lead at 1:34 of the first period, scoring on the power play off a pass from Tim Corcoran while Miami’s Tyler Bigg sat in the penalty box after being called for boarding 8 seconds earlier.
Colin Wright beat Miami goalie Connor Knapp through the legs with a breakaway, short-handed goal with 5:02 left in the first to extend the lead to 2-0.
Riley Wetmore pushed it to 3-0 at 2:21 of the second period.
The third period was all Miami. Trent Vogelhuber and Austin Czarnik scored 14 seconds apart to make it 3-2 only 3:20 into the period, and Alden Hirschfeld tied it at 9:56 with help from Steven Spinell.
Knapp, who came in leading the nation in goals against average (1.59), finished with 24 saves.
Doug Carr made 30 stops for the River Hawks, who had previously won only two NCAA tournament games — both against Michigan State.
“Their goaltender made some huge saves and that’s the name of the game,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said.
With a win Saturday night, UMass-Lowell will advance to the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., in two weeks.