Boston University skates past RIT; UMass falls in double-overtime thriller

To no one’s surprise, Macklin Celebrini rose to the occasion Friday.

Boston University’s superb freshman scored a pivotal second-period goal in lifting the Terriers to a 6-3 victory over RIT during an NCAA Tournament first-round clash before a crowd of 3,748 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Less than two minutes after RIT gad pulled within a goal, Celebrini, following passes by Dylan Peterson and Nick Zabaneh, sent a shot past RIT netminder Tommy Scarfone at the 17:01 mark to make it 4-2.

It was Celebrini’s 32nd goal of his memorable rookie campaign and came after terrific work by Peterson and Zabaneh.

Order restored, the Terriers (27-9-2) went into the locker room with an all-important two-goal advantage. Then, just 1:29 into the third, Jack Harvey extended the advantage to 5-2 with a terrific individual effort which saw him race around a defenseman and chip the puck over Scarfone.

It was BU’s 46th NCAA Tournament win. Only Minnesota (61), Michigan (57), North Dakota (53) and Boston College (49), which plays Friday, had more entering Thursday night play.

While RIT was making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, and first since 2016, BU was skating in its 39th national tournament, a number which trails only Minnesota and Michigan, which have been to 41 big dances.

Celebrini, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, set up the game’s opening score, a tally by defenseman Lane Hutson at 11:56 of the first. BU went up 2-0 on a Ryan Greene, tally but RIT’s Elijah Gonsalves sent a shot past Mathieu Caron before the horn sounded on the period.

Sam Stevens seemingly put the game out of reach in the second with a goal, but RIT (27-11-2) answered on a blast from defenseman Gianfranco Cassaro, a UMass transfer who leads the nation’s blueliners with 18 goals.

Before Terrier fans could get too nervous, Celebrini tallied his crucial goal. In the third period, down three goals and the seconds ticking away, RIT pulled its goaltender for a sixth skater, but Peterson made the Tigers pay with an empty-net goal with 4:14 remaining.

A last-minute goal by RIT’s Cody meant little. BU will play the Minnesota-Omaha winner on Saturday.

Springfield Regional

Denver 2, UMass 1: The Minutemen threw everything but the kitchen sink at Denver goaltender Matt Davis and at several points it looked liked UMass was going to spring a big upset over the nine-time national champions.

But Tristan Broz scored at 12:27 of the second overtime to lift the Pioneers past UMass before 3,894 fans at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield. Most of the fans were rooting for the Minutemen.

UMass outshot the 2022 national champions 47-43, but Davis was outstanding between the pipes. So was UMass goalie Michael Hrabal, who turned aside 41 shots.

In a thrilling second overtime, UMass peppered Davis with 13 shots, while Hrabal turned aside 10 before Broz’s winner. On the winning goal, Broz carried the puck into the middle of the ice and uncorked a 35-foot wrist shot. Due to a heavy screen in front by Denver forward Sam Harris, Hrabal had little chance of seeing the puck off the stick of Broz, a Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick.

It was a terrific showing for UMass (20-14-3), which snuck into the 16-team tournament after falling 8-1 to Boston College in a Hockey East semifinal last Friday in Boston.

Denver went up 1-0 at 5:12 of the second period when Boston Buckberger ripped a shot past Hrabal. UMass tied it later in the period when Liam Gorman snuck a loose puck behind Davis. Hrabal and the Minutemen did an admirable job holding down the offense of Denver (29-9-3), which led the nation in goals per game (4.85) entering Thursday.

Only four penalties were called, two on each team, as both went 0-for-2 on the power play.

In the nightcap in the Springfield Regional, Maine, another Hockey East team in the field, trailed Cornell 2-1 after two periods in a game delayed by the Denver-UMass marathon.

Denver forward Sam Harris (12) begins to celebrate the game-winning goal scored by forward Tristan Broz as UMass was defeated in double overtime in a NCAA Tournament game in Springfield. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)
Denver forward Sam Harris (12) begins to celebrate the game-winning goal scored by forward Tristan Broz as UMass was defeated in double overtime in a NCAA Tournament game in Springfield. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)



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