AMHERST, MASS. — On Friday night Umass-Amherst found out just how difficult it is to ice skate up hill.
Three first period goals were just too much to overcome for the Minutemen (4-6, 2-3 Hockey East) as they fell to UMass – Lowell (7-2, 5-2 HEA), 3-2 in front of over 3,400 at the Mullins Center.
The Minutement outshot the River Hawks 24-15 and following Lowell’s third tally, the Minutemen took control of the game but ended falling just short.
“I think we established our game in the first period,” Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald said. “But we totally got away from that in the second and third.”
A Steve Slonina goal at 12:49 of the first proved to be the game winner. Mark Concannon made a nifty move from behind the net before skating out in front and firing a backhander off of Mike Johnson’s pads. Johnson could not control the rebound, as Slonina rushed the net and jammed home the rebound.
Freshman Peter Trovato scored just 1:39 into the period but the Minutemen could not get another past UML goalie Cam McCormick to knot the game.
UMA had a myriad of opportunities in the final frame including a down low two on one between Jimmy Callahan and Thomas Pock that McCormick snuffed out with the trapper.
The Minutemen had a power play with under ten minutes remaining but again they could not solve McCormick.
The second period saw absolute domination on the part of the home squad. Down 3-1, UMA turned up the offensive juice but McCormick was more than up to the challenge.
He hindered a flurry of Minuteman shots on the power play in the first half of the period including a golden chance for defenseman Nick Kuiper at the top of the circles and a goal crease whiff by Jimmy Callahan.
UMA helped McCormick out with some missed chances, as Kelly Sickavish hit the far post from the left circle and Thomas Pock fired a one timer from the slot right into the UML tender’s chest.
“I was trying to go top corner,” Pock said. “I just couldn’t get it up.”
The River Hawks broke open the floodgates early in the first period, as they scored three goals on their first five shots.
Laurent Meunier got Lowell started with a floating wrist shot just :18 seconds in. Lowell put a lot of traffic in front of UMA goalie Johnson, who allowed a goal on the first shot for the second consecutive night.
“It was a soft goal,” Johnson said.
Just nine minutes later Meunier was in on the action, assisting on linemate Yorick Treille’s goal that gave the visiting Hawks a 2-0 lead. Meunier stickhandled into the slot on the power play before threading the puck back to Treille who beat Johnson five-hole.
Slonina put Lowell up three goals before a Tim Turner power play goal cut the deficit to two.
Turner, camped out in front, took a point feed from Martin Miljko, swiveled and fired the puck past UML’s Cam McCormick. Turner’s tally stopped a school record shutout streak of 209:25 by McCormick.
With the win Lowell keeps pace with New Hampshire atop the conference. UMA’s setback marks the second night in a row that the Minutemen have outshot and outplayed its opponent but skated away with the loss.
“I hate losing,” Cahoon said. “I don’t think any of these kids like it either.”
The River Hawks second consecutive victory over the Minutemen clinches the Alumni Cup (going to the winner of the season series between the sibling schools) for the fifth consecutive year.