LOWELL, Mass. — UMass-Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald didn’t have to read the riot act in the locker room to inspire his team after they were one goal down after two periods. It was just the opposite.
“There was not one ounce of panic in there,” said MacDonald.
Indeed, a simple clearing pass turned into a breakaway game-winning goal for Laurent Meunier as No. 7 UMass-Lowell came from behind to defeat No. 5 Boston University 3-2 at the Tsongas Arena Saturday night.
Lowell, which improved its record to 10-2-0, 6-2-0 in-conference, remained two points behind New Hampshire for first place in Hockey East.
BU (8-3-1, 3-2-1 HEA) came out of the dressing room flying. The Terriers had an odd-man scoring opportunity in the first 15 seconds of the game that didn’t pan out. The hot start paid off minutes later.
Steve Greeley dug the puck out of the corner and circled to find a streaking Ryan Whitney. He pinched in from his defensive position and blasted home the first goal of the game past Cam McCormack. Whitney’s second goal of the season came at 2:24 into the game.
It was the first goal given up by Lowell since an early third-period goal at UMass-Amherst on November 16, a shutout stretch of 140:45.
Lowell wouldn’t wait long before striking back. A little over two minutes later, Peter Hay took a slapshot in the slot that was stopped by BU goalie Sean Fields. The rebound trickled off his pads and Tom Rouleau stuffed home the equalizer.
BU retook the lead midway through the second period. Brian McConnell’s pass was a little ahead of Mike Pandolfo, but he reached out to one-hand tip the puck into the net. It was the 50th career goal for the BU captain.
Lowell had limited opportunities through the first half of the game but couldn’t solve Fields. Yorick Treille had the best chance as he picked up the loose puck right in front of the BU net but was never able to get a shot off.
Lowell started its comeback halfway through the third. After Fred Meyer was whistled for interference, Lowell cranked the offense into gear. Ed McGrane collected the puck at center ice and rushed towards the net from the left side. McGrane’s shot was stopped but Mark Concannon wristed home the tough angle shot to even the game at two.
“I believe the goalie had the puck covered and the defenseman knocked it out of his hands,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “I was pleased with the overall effort. I like my team but I don’t like playing well and losing.”
The Lowell comeback was almost complete. Kevin Kotyluk dumped the puck out of Lowell’s zone towards center ice. The puck went over John Cronin’s head and right to a streaking Meunier. He skated in and slid the puck behind Fields for the game-winner.
“I see the ‘D’ shot the puck off the window and I go pick up the puck,” said Meunier of the game-winner. “We created good momentum in the second period. We are better physically at winning the loose pucks.”
“It was a great college hockey game,” said MacDonald.” We bent and didn’t break as we needed to. We got sharper as the game went on.”
BU couldn’t keep its early momentum throughout the game. The Terriers were outshot by Lowell, 12-3,in the final period and never really put together any solid scoring opportunities.
“As the game progressed, I don’t think we played as well the second half as the first,” said Parker. “All and all, I thought Lowell played well.
McCormack finished the game with 17 saves. Fields was credited with 23 stops.
Lowell is off to upstate New York next weekend for games against ECAC foes St. Lawrence and Clarkson. BU has a home and home series against UMass-Amherst.