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College Hockey:
Super Win for Lowell

— Three goals in the second period helped UMass-Lowell beat rival Merrimack 5-2 in a pre-Super Bowl matinee Sunday afternoon. Ed McGrane was the offensive hero for the Riverhawks, scoring three goals including the game-winner.

Lowell (17-8-1, 9-6-1 HEA) snapped a season-long five-game losing streak that saw them only score four goals over the last four games. The win moves them back into fourth place in the Hockey East, one point ahead of an idle Northeastern.

“This was a well needed victory for team,” said Lowell head coach Blaise McDonald. “We got better as the game went on. We were able to create a lot of chances.”

Lowell got on the board first. Tom Rouleau skated down the right half of the ice and made a power move around the defense. He was able to slip the puck past Merrimack goalie Joe Exter to give Lowell the early lead. It was Rouleau’s eighth goal against Merrimack in his career.

Merrimack didn’t take long to get even up the score. Stephen Crusco picked up a loose puck in the Lowell zone and beat Lowell goalie Cam McCormick to tie the game at one.

Lowell started the second period slowly by letting Nick Torretti get a quality chance in front of McCormick 10 seconds into the period. After that scoring opportunity, Lowell would take control of the game.

McGrane picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and led a 2-on-1 opportunity. He faked the pass, moving Exter out of the net and buried the puck into the back of the open net. That was just the start of the fun for McGrane.

With Lowell down a man, McGrane took a Josh Reed clearing pass and walked in alone on Exter. He deked Exter and slipped the puck into the right corner for his second goal of the night. It was also McGrane’s fifth shorthanded goal of the season and second against Merrimack this year.

The Lowell offensive onslaught continued later in the period. The puck came out of the corner to the right point. Jerramie Domish took the pass and faked a shot towards Exter. With Exter out of the net, he fed Peter Hay who knocked in the bouncing puck for the goal.

Lowell outshot Merrimack 13-7 in the second period to take control of the game.

The only thing left for Lowell was to get McGrane the hat trick. Hay fed McGrane who was stoned by Exter early in the third. It only took a few minutes before McGrane got his third of the game.

While on the power play, McGrane wristed a shot from the top of the slot that beat Exter to extend Lowell’s lead to four goals. It was McGrane’s first career hat trick.

“I was just throwing the puck towards the net,” said McGrane. “It was lucky. I thought, oh man, it went it. I don’t think that he{Exter} saw it.”

“He is a prime-time player,” said McDonald of McGrane. “He is going to show up and play hard at both ends of the life. He is starting to elevate the other players’ games as well.”

Merrimack (8-17-2, 3-12-2 HEA) would cut into the lead as Anthony Aquino tipped home a slap shot on the power play midway through the third period.

Exter had the save of the game minutes later. Anders Strome and Rouleau broke in 2-on-1 scoring chance. Strome fed Rouleau alone in front of the net but Exter made a behind the back glove save to keep Lowell off the board.

Merrimack extends their losing streak to five games and remains in eighth place in the Hockey East.

“We stunk,” said Merrimack associate head coach Mike Doneghy. “We showed up for only one period. I’m at a loss for words, it was ugly.”

Domish chipped in with three assists while Steve Slonina had two assists for Lowell.

Lowell looks to extend the winning next Friday night in Providence. Merrimack returns home to entertain Beanpot hopeful Northeastern next Friday night.

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