LOWELL, Mass. — Massachusetts-Lowell sophomore Elias Godoy collected two goals, but No. 10 New Hampshire’s Steve Saviano stole the show with two of his own, including the game-tying goal, and an assist as UML skated to a 3-3 draw Friday with the visiting Wildcats in front of 5,690 fans at the Tsongas Arena.
The tie is the second straight between the squads at Tsongas, as the two teams were knotted a four goals apiece on February 21, 2003. Godoy has picked up five goals and an assist in his past two outings between the two teams.
“It was a battle all night,” said UNH bench boss Dick Umile. “It was a back-and-forth hockey game all night, we battled back twice, had the lead and then gave it up. The guys really hung in there tonight, they stuck to the plan, and found a way to get an important point.”
“I really liked the way we played in the second period, but I didn’t think we carried that moxie into the third,” said UML head coach Blaise MacDonald. “UNH is an awfully talented team with big players, most notably Steve Saviano. He played really well for UNH, they’re a good hockey club, and Michael Ayers, as he’s shown before, is one of the best goaltenders in the country.”
New Hampshire controlled the run of play in the first period, holding the edge on a light shot chart, 8-6. UMass-Lowell’s only mistake of the period turned into the first goal of the game, as the Wildcats cashed in on their first power play of the evening.
Saviano took the puck from behind his own goal line and skated up ice with a tandem that included junior Preston Callander. Saviano dished the puck to Callander on his left as he crossed the River Hawk blueline, and as Callander barreled towards the net he let fly a low wrister that beat UML netminder Chris Davidson five-hole, giving UNH a 1-0 advantage after one.
The River Hawks skated strong in the second period, bottling the puck up in the Wildcat zone in an attempt to knot the game at one. Perseverance paid off for UML, as a UNH turnover gave the River Hawks the opportunity they needed. Sophomore Elias Godoy collected the puck at the point on an errant pass, pumped his stick twice, and fired a blast that found its way past UNH goaltender Mike Ayers at 19:04.
UML looked primed to take the lead just seconds later, as an odd-man rush off the face off in neutral ice saw freshman Jason Tejchma all alone in front with the puck. Tejchma however could not control the bounding biscuit, as his shot went wide with traffic descending upon the net. The two teams went into the second break knotted at one, with UML outshooting UNH in the period, 15-8.
The third period saw an offensive explosion in comparison to the two previous periods. Saviano picked up his first goal of the game at 4:08 of the third frame after taking a feed from junior Sean Collins in the slot and putting it past Davidson.
The River Hawks regrouped to score the next two markers in the contest. Godoy tied the contest at two at 8:43 on the power-play, taking a pass from the right corner by sophomore Andrew Martin low in front and hammering it home.
UMass-Lowell took its first and only lead of the contest at 17:05 of the third. Sophomore Danny O’Brien made a great move toward the net with the puck, causing a massive pile up in the crease that included UNH and UML players. With Ayers down, sophomore Mark Pandolfo lifted the puck high into the net for his eleventh goal of the season.
Saviano tied the contest just over a minute later, notching his second goal of the season as he fell to the ice while putting home a junior Justin Aikins redirect on the low left side. The game made its way into overtime, however neither team could find the go-ahead goal, and the 3-3 score stood.
Davidson made a total of 22 saves through three plus periods of work, while his counterpart Ayers at the other end stopped 24 River Hawk attempts. A clean contest overall, both teams scored once on their two opportunities.
“We’re pretty pleased with our effort, we’ve been playing better and better and focusing on the right things,” said MacDonald “I felt pretty good when we scored that last goal, however that changed when Saviano picked up the game-tying goal.”
Saturday UMass-Lowell (8-18-5, 5-9-3 HE) will close out the season series with New Hampshire (16-10-4, 8-6-4 HE) at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m.