POTSDAM, N.Y. — UMass-Lowell broke out in the second period with three goals and held off a late surge by Clarkson for a 3-2 win Saturday night at Cheel Arena, completing a sweep after defeating St. Lawrence handily Friday 4-0.
“It was a great college hockey game,” said Clarkson coach Mark Morris. “I thought we played pretty sound hockey in the first period, until a few costly turnovers in the second were the difference in the hockey game. They’re the type of team, with all the upperclassmen, that they’re gonna take full advantage of those opportunities.”
The two teams skated to a tie in the first frame, as both teams were unable to score on two man-advantages. The closest either team got to putting the puck in the net came late in the first, when a centering pass by Clarkson forward David Evans was just out of reach of a driving Trevor Edwards on a 2-on-1.
In the second period, the River Hawks broke open the scoring, when Ken Farrell picked up his first goal of the season for UMass-Lowell. Farrell skated into the Golden Knight zone with the puck, and flicked a wrist shot at net from the right faceoff circle that beat netminder Mike Walsh and gave the River Hawks their first lead, 1-0 at 3:04.
Clarkson responded to the deficit in the most unlikely of circumstances. A penalty to Chris Blight for interference put the Golden Knights a man down, but it didn’t stop the opportunistic Rob McFeeters. Baptiste Amar controlled the puck after the faceoff following the penalty, and he skated into his own zone, straight towards his own net. Amar then fell to the ice, and in the process slid into goaltender Jimi St. John. With the keeper obstructed and the puck free in the crease, McFeeters, who had been following Amar the whole time, stuffed the puck into the unprotected net before it was knocked off its moorings at 5:27, knotting the game at one.
“It’s great to see Rob break out; he’s such a valuable member of our team,” said Morris. “We need him to produce.” On the weekend, McFeeters picked up two goals and two assists.
UMass-Lowell took a two-goal lead just over three minutes after Clarkson tied the game, when the River Hawks picked up their final two tallies in 30 seconds. At 8:54 Kevin Kotyluk fed the puck to the center of the Golden Knight zone and Laurent Meunier one-timed an attempt at net that beat Walsh.
At 9:24 Stephen Slonina skated in front of the Clarkson net after receiving the puck from Mark Concannon. As Walsh went down to defend the shot, Slonina backhanded his shot high to put the River Hawks up 3-1.
The game looked as if it would end that way for UMass-Lowell, but the Golden Knights battled back in the third when a goal by Kevin O’Flaherty made things interesting at 10:31. After Farrell was whistled for a cross-check, Dave Reid of Clarkson put a shot on net with the man-advantage, and St. John made the original save. However, St. John thought the puck was stuck in his pads, when in actuality it was trickling towards the goal line behind him.
A scramble for the puck ensued, and with two players down in front of him, O’Flaherty reached in and tapped the puck across the line, cutting the River Hawk lead to one.
The Golden Knights pulled Walsh in the waning minutes of the third period, in hopes that the extra attacker would send the game into overtime, but the game ended in a 3-2 UMass-Lowell victory.
“I thought we played very well defensively,” said coach Blaise MacDonald. “Even when they had the puck, I liked our positioning, I liked our thoroughness. We were up 3-1 and we had some splendid opportunities to go up 4-1 and we just couldn’t bury them. Usually the first one to four wins.
“I knew that Clarkson is very well coached, and I know they have a lot of pride, and that they would fight like dogs in the third period, and they did.”
St. John had a strong evening in net, turning aside 26 shots and allowing two goals, while Walsh made 23 saves and allowed three. There were few power-play opportunities throughout the game, as the bulk of the penalties came in the first period. Clarkson finished the evening 1-for-3 with the man-advantage, while the River Hawks were unable to convert on their four opportunities.
UMass-Lowell is off until the 28th of December, when it will face another ECAC opponent in Harvard at the Wells Fargo Denver Cup, while Clarkson is idle until the new year, when the Knights host MAAC frontrunner Mercyhurst.