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New Hampshire, Minnesota move into Frozen Four championship

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. After a reprieve when replay disallowed a goal against him, Mike Ayers and the New Hampshire Wildcats finally woke up.

Ayers stopped 19 shots, including one off his mask in the waning seconds, as New Hampshire advanced to the NCAA championship game with a 3-2 upset of the top-seeded Cornell on Thursday. Steve Saviano had two goals and Tim Horst also scored, as New Hampshire (28-7-6) advance to Saturday's title game.

The Wildcats, 10-0-3 in its last 13 games, will face defending champion Minnesota for the title. The Golden Gophers edged Michigan 3-2 in overtime Thursday night.

Ryan Vesce and Chris Abbott scored for Cornell (30-5-1), which had gone 14-0-1 in its last 15 game. The Big Red, eliminated in last year's NCAA tournament quarterfinals by New Hampshire, were trying to win their first title since 1970, when they finished 29-0.

The Wildcats finished strong after a slow start, when they were outshot 7-1 in the first 12 minutes.

The turning point came when referee Don Adam, following a video review, disallowed a goal scored by Cornell's Shane Palahicky. Adam ruled Palahicky used a high stick to deflect in Jeremy Downs' point shot.

I just kind of relaxed and had a good feeling,'' Ayers said.

We needed a momentum shift,'' added Patrick Foley. We built off it and that's when I think we took control of the game and didn't look back.''

BUFFALO, N.Y. Thomas Vanek scored 8:55 into overtime, lifting defending champion Minnesota to a 3-2 victory over Michigan on Thursday, advancing the Golden Gophers to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game.

Gino Guyer and Troy Riddle also scored for the Gophers, who overcame a 2-0 deficit. Minnesota (29-8-9) will defend its title against New Hampshire in Saturday's final.

The Wildcats, behind Steve Saviano's two goals, beat top-seeded Cornell 3-2 in the day's other semifinal.

Vanek, who also had an assist, ended the game on a great individual effort. Getting to a loose puck in the left corner, he eluded a defender and snapped a shot from a bad angle that beat Michigan goalie Al Montoya through the legs.

Minnesota extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games (11-0-2) and overcame a two-goal deficit for the fourth time this season. The Gophers, who beat Maine 4-3 in overtime in last year's championship game, could become the first team to repeat since Boston University won in 1971 and '72.

Brandon Kaleniecki and Jed Ortmeyer scored for Michigan (30-10-2), which lost its third semifinal game in three years.

The Wolverines, eliminated by Minnesota in last year's semifinals, have not advanced to the championship game since winning the title in 1998.

The Gophers came out flat. Their offense, ranked third in the nation, managed just five shots in the first period, while their defense needed plenty of help from goalie Travis Weber, who made several sharp stops on the 15 shots he faced.

Kaleniecki's goal came off a botched faceoff deep in the Minnesota end, beating two Gophers to the puck and snapping it in from the slot 9:33 into the game.

Another defensive miscue led to Ortmeyer's goal, which put the Wolverines ahead 2-0 in the second period. Ortmeyer checked Chris Harrington off the puck and drove to the net, where he got a pass from Jeff Tambellini.

Ortmeyer, alone in front, then slipped a shot through Weber's legs.

The Gophers finally responded. Riddle capped a scramble in front, tapping in a loose puck with 2:15 left in the second period.

Guyer tied the game 1:35 into the third, one-timing in Barry Tallackson's centering pass.

Michigan appeared to go up 3-2 with 10:09 left in regulation. Jason Ryznar's shot deflected off several legs and eventually trickled in. The goal was disallowed when referee Scott Hansen, backed by a video review, ruled he whistled down play before the puck crossed the goal line.

Ryznar had another chance to score with 3:15 remaining. With Weber out of position, Ryznar shot at an unguarded net, only to have his backhander from the slot blocked by diving Gophers defenseman Paul Martin.

Notes: The two schools differ on their overall records against each other. Michigan's record book states the Wolverines are 114-121-15 against Minnesota. The Gophers insist they're 116-110-16 against Michigan. ... Montoya, who turned 18 on Feb. 13, is the nation's youngest college player. ... Gophers D Keith Ballard celebrated a homecoming of sorts. The Baudette, Minn., native was taken 11th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in last year's NHL draft.



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