TROY, N.Y. — Massachusetts-Lowell took a 4-2 lead, scoring twice in the last two minutes of the first period, and then never looked back as it took an 8-4 win over Rensselaer, spoiling the Engineers’ home opener.
Anders Strome and Peter Hay scored 1:14 apart at the end of the first period, and Mark Pandolfo and Danny O’Brien scored in the second to make it 6-2, before the Riverhawks put it away in the third by matching Rensselaer’s two goals with two of their own.
The Engineers’ Danny Eberly scored 25 seconds into the game with a shot that eluded all bodies. But the Riverhawks took a 2-1 lead with goals by Darryl Green and Hay, and then the Engineers tied it with a C.J. Hanafin goal.
“It was a very interesting hockey game as far as some of the goals were scored, they weren’t typical of a college hockey game,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “It certainly was interesting.”
“Right from the start, first shot, boom, goal,” said Riverhawk head coach Blaise MacDonald. “I told the guys that I thought faceoffs were going to be critical tonight, and it was just one of those games that early in college hockey, a home opener, two young teams, the energy is there, the excitement is there, the band’s playing, but the coordination and movement is not quite in sync yet.
“I thought that we settled in, controlled the offensive zone, controlled the puck and got some Grade ‘A’ chances that we scored on and then we scored on some flukey ones.”
The Riverhawks suffocated the Engineers, as their pressure forced turnovers and gave the Riverhawks chances, while the Engineers could not muster many good opportunities.
“I was very happy with the way we played,” said MacDonald. “We protected the puck, we showed patience, we showed poise and we did a good job staying up in the neutral zone and some of the goals we gave up was fluky. The Rensselaer forwards have great puck poise and we knew that if we took away time and space from them, we would succeed.”
The Riverhawks seemed to find tons of space to skate all night, and frequently got to the puck before the Engineers. As a result, Lowell had many opportunities, cashing in on eight of them.
“Throughout the week we worked on our defensive zone and it’s something we’re going to have to continue working on,” said Fridgen. “We give too much gap and when you give too much gap to someone in your defensive zone against someone who is pretty good offensively, they can certainly take it to you and really make you look bad.”
At times the Engineers looked like they were going to break through and come closer, but after sustained pressure, the Riverhawks would shut the doors with goals.
“In the second period we really came out and took it to them a couple of times with sustained pressure and then they come down, take a shot and get a goal and it got us back on our heels and took the wind out of our sails,” said Fridgen. “The only way to recover from that is to work hard and plug away which we did. You had an 8-4 score there, but we got one flukey one and they got about four or five flukey ones, and it’s a different game. That was the thing that didn’t make it a typical game.
“I saw some positives out there, but we certainly have a lot to work on systems wise. We need to play a full 60 minutes in order to be successful.”
Said MacDonald, “When you play on the road, timing is everything and being to answer goals are everything. That’s part of the road mentality when you play. We wanted to take away the crowd, the band, the horn, and everything out of the equation and we did a good job of that.”