By Shane Frederick
---- — WORCESTER, MASS. — Connor Hellebuyck, UMass Lowell’s 6-foot-4 star goaltender, was the difference in the game on Saturday, as he ended Minnesota State’s season in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament.
Hellebuyck stopped 34 shots for a 2-1 victory of the Mavericks. He was 11 seconds short of a shutout.
Minnesota State goaltender Cole Huggins was nearly as good as Hellebuyck, also stopping 34 shots.
The only puck to get by Huggins was Joe Pendenza’s short-handed breakaway goal at 12:54 of the first period.
Lowell's Zack Kamrass added an empty-net goal in the final minute. With 10.8 seconds to play, MSU's Zach Stepan scored a power-play goal, finally getting a puck behind Hellebuyck.
Minnesota State finishes the season 26-14-1. It was their first loss in 14 games, ending an unbeaten streak that began on Feb. 1.