Denver’s Tristan Broz scores in double-overtime to knock off UMass, 2-1, in NCAA Tournament opening round (PHOTOS)

UMass forward Liam Gorman (20) knocks in a shot past Denver goalie Matt Davis to score in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass forward Liam Gorman (20) knocks in a shot past Denver goalie Matt Davis to score in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

UMass players celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass players celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

UMass players and fans celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass players and fans celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE—

UMass forward Liam Gorman (20) knocks in a shot past Denver goalie Matt Davis to score in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass forward Liam Gorman (20) knocks in a shot past Denver goalie Matt Davis to score in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE—

UMass players celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass players celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE—

UMass players and fans celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass players and fans celebrate after a goal by Liam Gorman (20) against Denver in the second period of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE—

UMass defender Scott Morrow (23) fires a shot against Denver during double overtime of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass defender Scott Morrow (23) fires a shot against Denver during double overtime of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

UMass defender Aaron Bohlinger (25) fires a shot against Denver during double overtime of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

UMass defender Aaron Bohlinger (25) fires a shot against Denver during double overtime of the opening round of the NCAA tournament Friday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-28-2024 9:25 PM

SPRINGFIELD — When the Massachusetts and Denver hockey teams meet in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, 60 minutes doesn’t seem to be enough to decide a winner. 

After playing to overtime in the 2019 NCAA tournament semifinals, the fourth-seeded Minutemen and the top-seeded Pioneers met in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at the MassMutual Center and three periods wasn’t enough to decide a winner. 

Denver and UMass both scored in the second period but those were the lone two goals in regulation, with the game heading to overtime tied at one. 

Neither squad found the back of the net in the opening 20 minute overtime period, and through 10 minutes of the second time, the score still showed 1-1. 

With 7:32 to go, Pioneer Boston Buckberger fired the puck to Tristan Boz just outside the right circle. Boz drove to center ice, and with multiple bodies in front of Minuteman goalie Michael Hrabal, fired a shot that made it to the back of the net that sent Denver to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 double-overtime victory. 

The game lasted nearly four hours in length and the 93 minute game was the sixth longest regional in the tournament’s history. 

“Extremely proud of the way we played tonight,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said. “I know there was a lot of chatter that we didn’t deserve to be in the tournament. I didn’t doubt it for a second. I thought we’d give Denver a hell of a game and we did.

In overtime, I loved the energy of our team,” Carvel continued. “I felt like we were going to find a way. It was an excellent hockey game and congrats to Denver. That’s a tremendous hockey team. I’m extremely, extremely proud of how we played tonight and represented Hockey East.” 

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Denver (29-9-3) advances to play the winner of Maine and Cornell on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Springfield to determine the winner of the Springfield Regional. 

“I’m just really proud of our team,” Pioneers coach David Carle said. “It was a hell of a battle. Obviously it could have went either way throughout the game and in overtime. There wasn’t a lot of ice out there. I’m just really proud of our team.” 

Both teams had plenty of chances throughout the game, but neither found success in the scoring department. 

UMass (20-14-3) put 47 shots on goal but Denver goalie Matt Davis stopped 46 of those. Conversely, Hrabal was peppered with 43 shots and finished with 41 saves. The Minutemen defense held Denver — the highest scoring team in the country during the regular season — to just two goals, something that had only happened three times during the season. 

After falling to Boston College 8-1 in the Hockey East semifinal, Carvel said he was proud of the way his team bounced back on Thursday. 

“After the BC game and conversations with players, they respected BC a lot,” Carvel said. “Now you get Denver who scores more goals. We had some really good meetings this week and looked back on games we played against Denver in the past. We played them at home twice last year. We convinced them they could play against this team. We had a game plan that we thought was effective and we played to it well.” 

The Pioneers outshot the Minutemen 10-5 in the first period, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. 

That changed 5:12 into the second period, when Tristan Lemyre took the puck to center ice, flipped a pass back to Buckberger, who ripped a shot in from just outside the right circle to give Denver the opening lead of the game. 

UMass upped the pressure after falling behind, and with 7:08 to go in the second, knotted the game up. Lucas Vanroboys won a puck battle in front of the net, knocked it over to Owen Murray who put a pair of shots on goal that were both saved by Davis. 

Liam Gorman, who hadn’t scored all season, was there to clean up the third rebound, smashing it home to tie the game at one. 

“I’m appreciative to have gotten the one at the end of the year,” Gorman said. “I’ve been battling all year to find out and build momentum. I’ve been joking that I’ve been saving them for the playoffs. I’m just thankful to be in the position I was in.” 

Both teams had their chances in the third period, with UMass holding a 9-7 shot advantage in the frame but nothing resulted in a goal. The Minutemen went on their first power play of the game with 6:54 to play and put four shots on goal, but none resulted in the gaining the lead. 

It was the Pioneers who held the shot advantage in the first overtime, outshooting UMass 9-7, but Hrabal came up with a number of key saves to keep the game going. 

In the second overtime session, the Minutemen held a 13-11 shot edge before Broz’s game-winner. 

“I didn’t need to say anything to them [before the overtime periods],” Carvel said. “I feel bad for them. I thought they deserved better tonight. I give Denver a lot of credit. They had to fly cross country and basically play a road game. A lot of credit to them. I was really happy with how we played. I thought we were going to find a way.” 

For a team that was picked to finish near the bottom of Hockey East, defenseman Ryan Ufko noted how UMass had to come together to fight for a spot in the NCAA tournament. 

“I’m so proud of what we did,” Ufko said. “Not just today but this whole year. After our year last year, it was us against the world. We were predicted to finish ninth in Hockey East. We put our head down, believed in our group and believed in ourselves. That’s all that mattered.”