DURHAM, N.H. — Sophomore Elias Godoy picked up his first career hat trick and added an assist as Massachusetts-Lowell held on for a 5-4 win over No. 4 New Hampshire in front of a shocked 6,501 fans at the Whittemore Center on Tuesday.
“Last weekend wasn’t my strongest weekend,” said Godoy. “Coach [Blaise MacDonald] and I talked about it over the last few days, I dug down deep tonight and came in with the attitude that I needed to play my best, and I think I played pretty well.”
Lowell (6-4-3, 4-3-1 HEA) scored the game’s first three goals, along with holding a 4-1 advantage before the house of cards fell in on the River Hawks; New Hampshire came back with three straight goals in the second to tie the game. After going 0-16-2 against ranked opponents in 18 outings, Lowell is 2-0-1 against ranked teams in the last three games, with the win over the No. 4 Wildcats representing the highest ranked team knocked off by the River Hawks since they defeated No. 2 Boston University 5-2 on Feb. 13, 1998 at Walter Brown Arena.
“We were a very fortunate hockey team tonight,” said MacDonald. “UNH didn’t play their typical game; we were able to capitalize on our opportunities. We were very opportunistic, we got some good puck luck.”
The River Hawks skated hard in the first period, out-shooting the host Wildcats 12-1 at one point in the period. Thwarting an early power-play opportunity for UNH, Lowell continued to gain momentum and finally capitalized with the game’s first goal at 5:31.
Freshman Jason Tejchma skated with the puck deep into the Wildcats zone along the left dasher, stopping in the corner. Tejchma flung the puck into the slot, and a driving sophomore Danny O’Brien got just enough of the it to put it past Mike Ayers and give UML the 1-0 advantage.
Lowell kept rolling, scoring the game’s next goal on its first power play. After collecting his own rebound on a blocked shot, Godoy cycled the puck down to classmate Ben Walter at the low post. Walter waited long enough for freshman defenseman Cleve Kinley to hit the slot, sending a perfect past to Kinley, whose one-timer found the back of the net at 7:12 for a 2-0 lead.
Godoy scored an early power-play goal in the second before Brian Yandle got UNH on the board at 2:03. It would be the first of four goals in the period for UNH, as the Wildcats pawed their way back into the contest.
After Godoy tallied his second marker of the contest with a nice move in front of Ayers at 14:22, the Wildcats responded by taking the ensuing faceoff into the River Hawk end and scoring 12 seconds later, as Brett Hemingway netted his third goal of the season from the right side faceoff dot.
UNH tied the game with two more goals before the end of the period, from Tim Horst on a breakaway, and Mike Lubesnick on a low floated that managed to beat Lowell goalie Chris Davidson with 31 seconds left in the period.
“It was almost like watching two games,” said MacDonald. “At one point we’re up 4-1, and then 12 seconds later they score. Given the mixture of our team (only two juniors and one senior in the lineup) I didn’t think we handled that stretch very well. But to the players’ credit, they refocused themselves during the break, and because of that we played well in the third.”
Both teams battled for the game’s final goal, with Godoy stealing the show as he sank the winning shot thanks to a great pass from Walter just after a power-play opportunity expired at 16:03.
Davidson made 16 saves in net for the River Hawks, while Ayers stopped 23 shots for the Wildcats.
“Mike Ayers was awesome,” stated MacDonald, “otherwise we could have had some breathing room in the third.”
Friday, Lowell begins a six game stretch of nonconference action when the River Hawks host Rensselaer, while New Hampshire (8-3-1, 5-2-1) hosts Rensselaer Saturday evening at the Whittemore Center.