SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — UMass-Lowell continued its rise and Union continued to falter, as the River Hawks took a 5-3 victory on Tuesday, avenging an earlier loss to the Dutchmen.
Since the Dutchmen defeated the River Hawks on Nov. 26, the Dutchmen have gone winless at 0-7-2 and are now 6-8-3 overall.
Meanwhile the River Hawks (10-8-2) have won four in a row and are 5-1-2 since that loss to Union.
Lowell received a strong performance from Cam McCormick in between the pipes and the first hat trick of the year by Tom Rouleau.
“We feel good. We’re 7-2-2 in our last 11, so we’re on a good stretch,” said River Hawks coach Tim Whitehead. “We’re doing the same stuff, but we’re getting better goaltending. We’re a little bit more consistent and we’re playing smarter.”
Said Dutchmen coach Kevin Sneddon, “We didn’t play good enough defense tonight and that was pretty evident with four goals in the critical area tonight — in front of the net. That’s where the game was lost. There’s not much more to say other than our power play didn’t do much tonight and we lost the game in the critical area.”
The River Hawks struck first in the opening frame as a hard-around clearing attempt was stopped behind the net by Ken Farrell. He quickly walked out front and put a shot on Brandon Snee. The puck was saved but sat between Snee’s legs. Not knowing where the puck was, Mark Concannon came in and poked it into the net behind Snee for the 1-0 lead.
Quick movement on the power play for the River Hawks gave them a 2-0 lead. Ron Hainsey found Rouleau from the blueline. Rouleau then redirected the pass past Snee.
The Dutchmen got on the board in the second as Alex Todd, who had been nursing a groin injury, came down the left wing and wristed one that went between the legs of McCormick to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Dutchmen had a chance to tie it up on a five-on-three power play at the beginning of the third period, but failed to capitalize as McCormick made a few tremendous saves.
Soon thereafter, the River Hawks made it 3-1. Rouleau received a centering pass from Farrell and, with plenty of time and room, one-timed it past Snee.
The Dutchmen would come back to within one on a very slow developing three-on-two. Clark Jones brought the puck down the left wing and dished it off to Drew Taylor, who buried it past McCormick.
It didn’t take long for the River Hawks to get the two-goal lead back, however. Two minutes after the Dutchmen scored, Nick Carso came down the right wing and put the puck in front of the net and Concannon got loose and tipped it past Snee for the 4-2 lead.
“Concannon has been in a scoring slump, not that he’s a conistent scorer, but he’s more of a drive the net and hard-working body-checking type of player,” said Whitehead. “He’s been frustrated because he wants to score and what he needed to do was keep it simple. Drive the net, like both goals he scored. That’s how he’s going to score if he’s going to score.”
The Dutchmen scored their second goal on a four-on-four situation, reducing the deficit to one. Jones took the point shot off the faceoff win and Kris Goodjohn tipped the puck down between the legs of McCormick.
The Dutchmen pulled Snee, but could not put the puck past McCormick. Rouleau then picked up the hat trick by adding an empty net goal.
“I give them the power play goal, but to give up three and a couple of breakaways in there … I felt we gave them goals and I didn’t think we made them earn it,” said Sneddon. “They did the job, they were going to the net, they were smart, but not to have a guy on them in front is unacceptable.”
While Sneddon was finding it unacceptable, Whitehead was finding it nervewracking on the bench.
“They just wouldn’t let up, right to the whistle,” he said. “There were some nervous moments on the bench because every time we thought we had the cushion, they scored again.
“I was impressed. I was impressed the last time we played them and they beat us and I feel we’re fortunate to come out of here with two points.”
The River Hawks, who hosts Boston College on Friday, went 1-for-3 on the power play while the Dutchmen, who host St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend, were 0-for-7.
But in the end, Sneddon points to the lack of defense that lost the game.
“All four goals were stuff that we should have been able to handle,” he said. “They didn’t throw anything at us that was ‘Oh, geez, we didn’t go over that on film.’ They’re a team that works hard.
“We’ve got three defensemen on staff that were ready to throw up after watching our defensemen play tonight.”