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COLLEGE HOCKEY ROUNDUP: Gophers win first-round game; UND, Union punch Frozen Four tickets

Minnesota junior forward Seth Ambroz takes a trip to the ice courtesy of Robert Morris sophomore defenseman Evan Moore in the second period of a NCAA Men’s Hockey West Regional quarterfinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Saturday. The Gophers won 7-3. John Autey | St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — When the Gophers hockey team flexed its way to a 3-0 lead after one period, it seemed like Robert Morris would need the mythical powers of Chuck Norris to pull out a beefy upset in their NCAA West Regional semifinal game Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The top-seeded Gophers are undefeated when they score three goals (21-0-2 before Saturday’s game), and the surprising tournament entrant named after the millionaire Revolutionary War financier would need to call in reinforcements.

Like the time Norris, the 1990s TV star of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” supposedly “counted to infinity —twice.”

Jokes aside, Robert Morris was left to fend for itself, and the math got worse as the Gophers cruised to a 7-3 win.

Minnesota (26-6-6) advanced to face the winner of Saturday’s late semifinal between St. Cloud State and Notre Dame. The West Regional final will be at 6:30 p.m. today.

Robert Morris, which rebooted its season after a 2-12-2 start to finish 19-18-5, was overmatched from the start. The Gophers had five shots on goal in the first 83 seconds.

Consecutive penalties on the Gophers —including 21 seconds of a 5-on-3 —briefly leveled the ice. The Gophers’ lead was back-loaded with goals from Nate Condon, Michael Brodzinski and Justin Kloos coming in the final four minutes of the period.

Kyle Rau made it 4-0 Gophers at 8:12 in the second period.

Robert Morris’ top scorer, Cody Wydo, got one back at 13:48 in the second. It was his 31st goal of the season.

In the final minute of the second period, Zac Lynch scored to cut the Gophers’ lead to 4-2. The resilient Colonials didn’t go away.

Hudson Fasching made it 5-2 Gophers at 14:21 in the third period, but the Colonials again made it a two-goal game when David Friedmann scored 25 sconds later.

The Gophers opened it up when Nate Condon netted a short-handed empty-net goal at 18:12. Mike Reilly made it 7-3 at 18:53.

The Gophers advanced beyond the semifinals after being dumped by Yale 3-2 in an overtime semifinal a year ago in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The last time the Gophers played in an NCAA West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center was 2012, when they beat Boston University and North Dakota to advance to the 20th Frozen Four in program history. The Gophers then lost 6-1 to Boston College in the semifinals.

East Regional

Union 3, Providence 1

BRIDEPORT, Conn. — Max Novak had a goal and an assist and top-seeded Union beat Providence 3-1 on Saturday to win the NCAA East Region championship and advance to the Frozen Four for the second time in three years.

Mat Bodie and Matt Hatch also scored for Union (30-6-4), which is unbeaten in its past 15 games.

Nick Saracino scored a third-period goal for Providence (22-11-6).

Midwest Regional

UND 2, Ferris St. 1, 2OT

CINCINNATI — Connor Gaarder’s goal just 1:28 into the second overtime period send fourth-seeded North Dakota to the 20th Frozen Four in program history.

Zane Gothnberg stopped 44 shots for UND (25-13-3), which was the last team in the tournament.

Hobey Baker Award candidate C.J. Moote stopped 23 shots for the Bulldogs, who end the season 29-11-3 after winning the WCHA regular-season title.

After a scoreless first period Cory Kane scored the lone goal for Ferris while Stephane Pattyn scored the equalizer a few minutes later.

The teams skated to scoreless third periods and first overtime before Kane’s winner.

Northeast Regional

Boston College 6, Denver 2

WORCESTER, Mass. — Johnny Gaudreau had his first hat trick for Boston College and added three assists, leading the top-seeded Eagles to a 6-2 victory against Denver on Saturday in the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinals.

Boston College (27-7-4) will face No. 2 Massachusetts-Lowell today for a spot in the Frozen Four.

Gaudreau tied the regionals scoring record and came up one shy of matching the NCAA tournament record for points in a game. He scored 25 seconds into the game as BC built a 6-0 second-period lead.

Linemate Kevin Hayes had two goals and two assists, and Bill Arnold, the center on the top line, had a goal and two assists.

UMass-Lowell 2,

Minnesota State 1

In the other Northeast Regional game, Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves and Joe Pendenza scored a shorthanded goal in the first period to send the River Hawks (26-10-4) to the victory.

Lowell ended Minnesota State’s 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) and kept the Mavericks (26-14-1) from earning their first NCAA Division I tournament win.

The Mavericks’ Zach Stepan gave MSU a chance with 10.8 seconds to play to cut the lead to 2-1 but they couldn’t equalize.

Cole Huggins made 33 saves for the Mavericks.

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