Minnesota Duluth takes lead over UMass into third period of Men’s Frozen Four semifinal

Minnesota Duluth’s Tanner Laderoute finishes off a goal in the first period Thursday against UMass (photo: Jim Rosvold).

PITTSBURGH — A Cole Koepke goal at 10:59 of the second has given Minnesota Duluth at 2-1 lead over Massachusetts through two periods in the second semifinal of the Men’s Frozen Four.

The winner of the game will face St. Cloud State, a 5-4 winner over Minnesota State in Thursday’s opener, in Saturday’s championship game.

Koepke’s go-ahead goal came on a scramble in front of the UMass net. Goaltender Matt Murray lost his goal stick as Koepke first attempted to shoot. That shot was blocked by the UMass defense but Koepke’s second attempt went high blocker side for the 2-1 lead.

Seconds later, after a Minnesota Duluth turnover, UMass looked to have the equalizer as Reed Lebster seemingly had a wide-open net. That was until goaltender Zach Stejskal flashed his right pad to rob Lebster.

After a stalemate early between these two defense-first clubs, UMass opened the scoring in the first on the power play when Minnesota Duluth’s Tanner Laderoute was whistled for holding at 14:57.

It didn’t take long for the Minutemen to score as offensively-talented defenseman Zac Jones scored his ninth goal of the season from the left point as UMass captain Jake Gaudet set a great screen in front of Stejskal.

Laderoute atoned for the penalty just minutes later when he outmuscled UMass defenseman Aaron Bohlinger for a loose puck in the crease, tucking it past Murray.