BOSTON -- The big-city arena, with all its big-league trappings, is not specifically what revs up these River Hawks.
The TD Garden just happens to be where the Hockey East semifinals and championship game are played, calmly explained UMass Lowell sophomore goalie extraordinaire Connor Hellebuyck.
"Everybody plays better in playoff hockey," said Hellebuyck. "And you're only at the Garden for playoff hockey. With the pressure on, I think guys just come into form."
Well, not everybody does. Hockey East rookie Notre Dame shook down no thunder Friday night while being beaten 4-0 in a Hockey East semifinal snoozer expertly perpetrated by a UMass Lowell team far more famous for its consistency in seat-squirmers.
"It's about their balance," said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. "They have four lines. They all play the same way."
As does calm and steady Hellebuyck, the reigning Hockey East Tournament MVP, who on Friday made 35 saves while setting a school record with his 11th career shutout.
Since allowing a first-period goal to Providence in a Hockey East semifinal last year, Hellebuyck has gone 171 busy minutes at the TD Garden without giving up another goal.
Last year, on their 29th try, the River Hawks won their first-ever Hockey East Tournament title en route to their first-ever Frozen Four appearance.
"We felt like the guys were on cue this morning in the pre-game skate, and they certainly were," said Bazin, UMass Lowell's third-year hockey coach/savior. "I thought we were sharp. Our special teams capitalized (2-for-3 on the power play), and that's always a big factor."
Winning the school's first-ever Hockey East championship last year was hard, said senior forward Derek Arnold, "but (getting back to the championship game) is even harder."
"We've put ourselves in position to go after another championship. And we're going to prepare properly," said Arnold, whose 11th goal of the season gave UMass Lowell a 2-0 first-period lead.
Give Hellebuyck a lead -- and the Hockey East first-team All-Star from Commerce, Mich., holds on to it like it is a winning Mega Millions ticket. "I thought it was going to be a low-scoring game," said Notre Dame senior center T.J. Tynan. "And when we saw them score two quick goals like that, it obviously was pretty frustrating."
Sophomore defenseman Christian Folin's shot was going wide but deflected in off Notre Dame defenseman Kevin Lind's right skate at 10:13 of the first period. A.J. White made a nice pass while circling in the right corner to set up Folin to be dangerous, while 6-foot-0, 180-pound senior captain Josh Holmstrom fully engaged 6-foot-3, 222-pound defenseman Lind just to the right of the crease.
"They have a great defensive corps and a great goalie, and you're going to have to get some ugly goals," said Holmstrom who was in the fray in front on three UMass Lowell goals without picking up a point.
Arnold made it 2-0 at 13:54 of the first period, on a 2-on-1 rush snapping a shot over Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays' glove. "(The defenseman) took away the pass, and I saw a little daylight, so I went with it," said Arnold, who scored the only goal of last year's Hockey East championship game against Boston University.
UMass Lowell increased its lead to 4-0 with two second-period power-play goals. Freshman Evan Campbell banged in a rebound in front at 3:25 of the second period and then junior defenseman Zack Kamrass' shot from the left circle was accidentally tipped in by Notre Dame defenseman Stephen Johns at 13:21.
"Holmstrom was doing a great job in front, so I figured if I threw it there, something good would happen," said Kamrass.
Bazin on Wednesday had said he was not surprised by Notre Dame's upset of mighty Boston College in the Hockey East quarterfinal, calling this a "ruthless" league. While not ruthless per se, these upstanding student-athletes from UML are certified relentless.
They dropped Notre Dame to 23-14-2.
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