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College Hockey:
Lowell Holds Off Eagles

Hamilton Rebounds, Stops 25

— If CBS executives are looking to cast members for the next season of Survivor, they might want to consider each and every player on the Massachusetts-Lowell hockey team.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead through two periods on power-play goals by Mark Roebothan and Kory Falite, the 19th-ranked River Hawks survived an all-out onslaught by No. 7 Boston College.

Falite’s second goal of the game, a 150-foot shot into an empty net with Eagles’ goaltender John Muse pulled, sealed the game, giving Lowell a 3-1 victory.

“I thought we were surviving when we had [BC] offensive zone faceoffs,” said Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald. “When you look at it, there were a lot of bobbling, loose pucks that they did a great job of getting, but I thought we were poised and blocked a lot of key shots.”

Part of Lowell’s ability to survive was the play of goaltender Nevin Hamilton (25 saves), who MacDonald had the faith to play after a being pulled after one period in the team’s last game, a 6-2 loss to Boston University.

“It was huge for me to rebound; I needed a good outing to get the confidence back for the remainder of the season,” said Hamilton.

“I never for one second doubted that he wouldn’t respond the way he did tonight,” MacDonald said.

The River Hawks also won the key special teams battle in the game, scoring two power-play goals in four attempts. The River Hawks were able to kill off all five Boston College power plays, including one late in the third period.

“We always talk as a team about winning those special team battles,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We lost those tonight.”

Lowell opened the scoring at 6:59 of the first period, connecting on the power play. Mark Roebothan redirected a shot-pass from the stick of Ryan Blair over the left shoulder of Muse (13 saves) for the 1-0 lead.

The River Hawks got the best of the play in the opening stanza, holding a slight 7-4 advantage in shots, but were successful in cycling the puck in the offensive zone to control the time of possession.

York, though, was happy with the way his team came out to open the game, brushing aside any thought that the Eagles were suffering a Beanpot hangover after capturing their 14th Beanpot title on Monday night.

The second erased any thoughts that BC would get outplayed. The Eagled dominated the early stages of the second, getting the first eight shots of the period. However, a five-minute major for hitting from behind to BC’s Kyle Kucharski brought momentum back Lowell’s way.

The Eagles killed Kucharski’s major, but then were issued back-to-back minors that gave the River Hawks an extended two-man advantage.

The second of those two penalties was to BC’s leading scorer Nathan Gerbe, who lost his composure in a tussle in the defensive zone and proceeded to punch a Lowell player in the head right in front of referee Scott Hansen.

When Gerbe was skating to the penalty box, things got worse for the junior, as Hansen disliked something that was said and slapped a 10-minute misconduct on top of the minor, putting the Eagles’ best player in the box for 12 minutes.

“That’s very difficult for our team,” said York of Gerbe’s misconduct penalty. “He’s got to control himself in that situation. He’s a young guy who gets covered very closely, but all good players have to be able to handle the checking.”

The Eagles actually did a good job of killing off the five-on-three, keeping the River Hawks without a shot, but just as the first penalty to Matt Greene concluded, Falite controlled a loose puck and blasted a 25-foot shot over Muse’s glove to increase the River Hawk cushion to two.

“The puck turned over and both of their defensemen were caught up,” said Falite of the eventual game-winner. “I walked in with a lot of space and [Muse] dropped his glove a little bit. I was going glove and it went over the shoulder, off the bar and in.”

Once back to full-strength, the Eagles again controlled the play, finishing the frame with a 13-5 shot advantage, but the inability to solve Hamilton sent Lowell to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.

BC finally solved the Hamilton puzzle early in the third. Nick Petrecki, fresh off scoring his first two career goals including the game-winner in the Beanpot title game on Monday night, fired a quick wrist shot at 2:01 that beat Hamilton clean to bring the Kelley Rink crowd of 4,688 to life.

The Eagles would have glaring opportunities immediately after. Brian Gibbons fired a shot that beat Hamilton at 3:59. The puck hit the right post, though, and bounced back into Hamilton’s glove. At 11:30, Hamilton nearly coughed up the lead himself, coming out to the top of the faceoff circle to clear the puck. Andrew Orpik intercepted the clearing pass but somehow shot wide.

From there, the survivor mentality was at its peak for Lowell. When the opportunities arose, they pressured the Eagles and cycled the puck in the offensive zone to kill time, and when needed, Hamilton made the save.

The victory is only the second in the last eight meetings for Lowell over BC and their first at Kelley Rink since 2005. The River Hawks (13-10-4, 8-8-4 Hockey East) remain in seventh in the Hockey East standings, a point in back of both BU and Vermont, both winners on Friday.

BC (15-7-7, 9-5-6 Hockey East) drops further in behind first place New Hampshire with the loss. The Eagles are now six points behind the Wildcats, sitting in a three-way tie for second place.

The two teams complete the weekend home-and-home series Saturday night at the Tsongas Arena.

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