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Wildcats, Gophers reach final

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Steve Saviano scored twice and New Hampshire advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game with a 3-2 upset of top-seeded Cornell on Thursday.

Tim Horst also scored, and goaltender Mike Ayers stopped 19 shots as the Wildcats advanced to Saturday's title game against defending champion Minnesota.

"I don't get many goals often, and I get two in a big game," Saviano said.

New Hampshire (28-7-6) is in its second championship game. The Wildcats lost to Maine 3-2 in overtime in 1999.

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

Cornell led the nation in every major defensive category this season, and Big Red goalie David LeNeveu led the nation with a 1.14 goals-against average and is one of three Hobey Baker award finalists.

The three goals matched the most allowed by LeNeveu.

Horst opened the scoring 14:21 in, one-timing Tyler Scott's centering pass. Saviano then put away the game with two power-play goals, allowing the Wildcats to build a 3-0 lead by the 7:10 mark of the second period.

After Vesce scored two minutes later, Abbott cut the Wildcats lead to 3-2, capping a two-on-one break with brother Cam Abbott midway through the third period.

Ayers made his best stop with 22 seconds remaining. Cornell forward Stephen Baby had his shot from close range go off Ayers' mask and off the post.

A Cornell goal by Shane Palahicky was disallowed in the first because he deflected a shot from the point with a high stick.

MINNESOTA 3, MICHIGAN 2 (OT) : Thomas Vanek scored 8:55 into overtime for the Golden Gophers.

Gino Guyer and Troy Riddle also scored for the Gophers, who overcame a 2-0 deficit.

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 goalie Al Montoya through the legs.

"I guess I'm just the lucky one in the right spot," said Vanek, who leads the team with 30 goals. "This is why I came here, to get a shot at the title. And now we do."

Minnesota extended its unbeaten streak to 13 (11-0-2) and overcame a two-goal deficit for the fourth time this season. The Gophers (29-8-9), who beat Maine 4-3 in overtime in last year's championship game, could become the first team to repeat since Boston 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 have not advanced to the championship since winning the title in 1998.

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