LOWELL, Mass. — Paced by a two-goal effort by Elias Godoy and a 25-save effort by goaltender Chris Davidson, the Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks shut out sister-school rival No. 11 Massachusetts, 3-0, at Tsongas Arena in a Saturday matinee.
The win evens up the season series between the two schools which determines annually the winner of the Alumni Cup with the rubber match coming Sunday at Amherst, Mass.
The final score, though, was not the story of the night. Rather it was a third-period injury to UMass’ second leading scorer, Greg Mauldin, after being checked from behind into the boards by Lowell’s Jerramie Domish. After a 15-minute delay, Mauldin was carried off the ice flatboarded to a stretcher with the remainder of blood visual on the ice.
UMass head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon said he didn’t want to speculate on what the injury was, but believed there wasn’t spinal cord damage suffered. He said the extent was probably limited to a potential concussion and laceration above the eye. Mauldin was taken to Lowell’s Saints Memorial Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition pending additional evalution.
“He was cut up and sore in the neck,” said Cahoon, “He was run pretty good.”
Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald, though, was not as tight-lipped as Cahoon, particularly when it came to calling out his captain Domish for his careless play.
“That’s what happens to players who don’t play with any integrity or level of well being,” said MacDonald about Domish. “We try to teach here, believe it or not, if it’s close, don’t even hit him.
“I couldn’t see the hit from the bench. I didn’t see the last 10 feet, only the pursuit. To me, it’s just totally unacceptable.”
Domish received a five-minute major and game disqualification for the hit, none of which affected the outcome of the game; the UMass power play struggled to get even a shot on goal. But for Domish, he will feel lasting impact as well; since it was his second disqualification of the season, he will receive a two-game suspension (Domish received a DQ in an early-season game at Canisius).
The Domish hit notwithstanding, the game for the River Hawks was near flawless. After jumping out to a 2-0 first period lead, the Hawks played almost perfect defensively, taking advantage of a depleted Minuteman offense.
In addition to losing Mauldin for the final 10 minutes of the game, UMass was without the services of Chris Capraro, who has at least temporarily left the team for personal reason, as well as Mike Warner (wrist) and Stephen Werner (World Juniors).
The result was a UMass team focused on defense more than offense, to which a 2-0 deficit played contrary to the game plan.
“We wanted to play on the defensive side,” said Cahoon. “We’re not going to be winning games, 6-5. But even when you do that you need to skate and we’re just not doing that.”
Besides the simple positive of winning, MacDonald was happy that Davidson could post a shutout one outing after being pulled against Ferris State, against which he surrendered four goals in 22 minutes.
“Any time you get a shutout against a team that has been in the top 10 for most of the year, it’s a pretty good performance,” said MacDonald. “He got himself ready for this game. Maybe he didn’t think he made the saves that he might have, but he made the saves he needed to.”
Lowell dominated the opening period territorially, despite holding only an 11-8 advantage in shots on goal. They opened the scoring on the power play at 8:08. Skating into the zone two-on-two, Jason Tejchma dropped a pass for Godoy 10 feet inside the blueline. After taking one stride towards the net, Godoy unleashed a blast that beat UMass goalie Gabe Winer (22 saves) cleanly to the glove side, off the crossbar and into the net.
Six minutes later, the Hawks extended their lead on a highlight-reel goal. Again entering the zone two-on-two with the Minuteman defense, Danny O’Brien feathered a pass to Tejchma in the slot. Tejchma, with two Minutemen draped on his back, was still able to redirect the pass over the right pad of Winer to give Lowell a 2-0 lead.
In the final minute of the period, the Minutemen had what could be considered one of their only quality scoring chances of the game. Fourth-line center Peter Trovato sat in front of the Lowell net with Davidson down and the entire top half of the goal empty. Attempting to roof the shot, Trovato did exactly that — firing the puck over the crossbar and straight up to the Tsongas Arena roof, keeping the River Hawks lead at 2-0 through one.
The second period saw Lowell again control time of possession but unable to sneak a puck past Winer. Lowell’s best chance came on the power play with Bobby Robins camped out at the right post. But Winer was able to come across the crease and make a pad save to hold the deficit to two through two.
Looking for some solid padding in the third, Lowell got just that from Godoy when he picked up a loose puck after Mauldin and fellow UMass defenseman Dusty Demianiuk collided at the defensive blueline. Walking in on goal, Godoy pulled the puck around Winer and buried it for the game’s final goal.
It was the 10:01 mark of the period when the Mauldin injury occurred. The result was the five-minute major issued to Domish coupled with a two-minute minor to UMass’ John Toffey, reducing the overall power play from the penalties to three minutes. After being frustrated for the first minute of that power play, UMass’ Thomas Pock took a holding the stick penalty, canceling out the man advantage and taking away what little chance UMass had for a comeback away.
The win pushed Lowell above .500 to 9-8-3 (5-3-1 Hockey East) and places the Hawks one game behind New Hampshire and UMass for third place. UMass’ loss extended its winless streak to seven games (0-3-4) and drops its record to 9-5-5 (5-3-2 Hockey East).
The two teams rematch on Sunday (3 p.m.) at UMass to decide this year’s Alumni Cup series.