PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A dominating second period was almost enough to give Massachusetts-Lowell its first Hockey East win, but strong first and third periods for Providence resulted in a 2-2 tie.
Providence took a 1-0 lead in the first and appeared to be riding the momentum of its sweep last week at Maine. The River Hawks, however, controlled the second period in every way but on the scoreboard, leaving the Friars fortunate not to be behind heading into the scoreless third.
“The second period was the best period of hockey I might have ever seen in all my years of coaching,” UML coach Blaise MacDonald said. “We played tremendous. Our puck possession was remarkable. Our poise was terrific. Our spacing was great. We just couldn’t get enough pucks behind their goalie.
“[In the third] I give Providence a lot of credit. They came back with a strong effort, got their forecheck going and kept some pucks alive in the offensive zone. But when we got it down deep we still had some chances to win the game.”
Lowell (2-2-4, 0-2-4 HEA) now has ties in its last three games.
“It was a pretty good road game for us,” MacDonald said. “It was unfortunate for our team that we didn’t get the W.”
Providence (3-5-2, 3-2-2 HEA) did have the better of the two periods, but still couldn’t be unhappy with the tie. Pierce Norton scored both Friar goals.
“Lowell played really well and we played really well in spots,” PC coach Tim Army said. “I thought that we were sluggish in the first period, but not bad.
“But they really took it to us in the second period. If Simsie — [goaltender Tyler Sims] — doesn’t play the way he did, we come out in the third period behind and that changes the dynamic. But I thought we responded and played a much better third period.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t have the stick-to-itiveness that we needed. If the other team outplays you, they outplay you. But you’ve got to block some shots, knock some pucks out of the zone, box out around your net. We weren’t doing that. Lowell was putting heat on and we didn’t respond.
“The positive for our team, though, is that a year ago we probably would have lost this game. So even with not playing as well as we’d like, we still came out of it with a point. Any time you get a point in this league it’s important.”
The Providence Friars picked up where they left off last weekend, grabbing a 1-0 first period lead while generating most of the best chances.
The first exceptional opportunity for either side came midway through the first period when defenseman Matt Taormina, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week, dropped down into the low slot and collected a perfect pass from Greg Collins. Taormina’s shot tested Lowell goaltender Carter Hutton, but the sophomore made the glove save.
Hutton was not so fortunate five minutes later. With Providence on the only power play of the period, Taormina fed to Cody Wild after the defenseman dropped down into the left circle. Wild slid a pass across to Norton on the doorstep where he redirected it in for the early lead.
A very different Lowell team took the ice in the second period, eventually outshooting Providence, 18-5, dominating the period in every way except for one costly turnover.
The River Hawks tied the score less than two minutes in on an innocuous-looking two-on-two. With defensemen covering both players, Mike Potacco slid the puck right-to-left to Mark Roebothan in front. Despite the defensive presence, his stick was not tied up and the captain put the shot on net low and beat Sims.
Providence bounced back with a terrific effort by Kyle Laughlin, who tied up a Lowell defenseman to force a turnover. Norton swooped in, picked up the loose puck in the slot, and put Providence back on top with a nice move on Hutton.
The lead proved short-lived, however, as Patrick Cey beat Sims from the high slot, arguably a lesser chance than many that soon followed. The River Hawks swarmed, creating all kinds of traffic in front of Sims while dominating territorially.
Both sides had great chances in the opening minutes of the third period while Lowell enjoyed the man advantage. Providence’s Nick Mazzolini sent Collins off on a shorthanded breakaway, forcing Hutton to make the save. Then as the penalty neared an end, Lowell generated a flurry in front that might have gotten a puck over the line, though the light never went on.
Both teams return to action on Saturday. Lowell travels to Northeastern while Providence hosts New Hampshire.