LOWELL, Mass. — The University of Massachusetts-Lowell got over their scoring woes and snapped a three-game losing streak to beat No. 9 Massachusetts, 5-3, in front of 3,457 exuberated fans at Tsongas arena.
David Vallorani led the way with his first career hat trick and Nick Schaus collected four assists to lead the attack for the River Hawks.
The game winner-came at 13:16 in third when Michael Scheu, who was laying on the ice, tipped a pass over to Vallorani parked out in front. UMass goaltender Paul Dainton (33 saves) was also laying on the ice, and Vallorani shot it over him.
“I was high slot and Schaus took a shot from the point, and ‘Scheuy’ was on the ground and passed it to me and I put in the open net,” said Vallorani
The opening period was a defensive battle, but the Minutemen scored on a power play with six seconds left to give them an early 1-0 lead, after Jeremy Dehner took a hitting after the whistle penalty.
UMass was able to capitalize when Will Ortiz received the puck that went off of Danny Hobb’s skate right onto his stick. River Hawks’ goalie Hamilton was caught out of position and the net was wide open.
Massachusetts coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon thought his team played a sold first period, but had moments of sloppy play for rest of the game.
“I thought the first period was played pretty well, and we got the break on the nice play by [Michael] Lecomte to get the puck to the net, and Ortiz finishing to get the one-goal lead; looked like things were breaking for us and then we come up with the second goal and have a two goal lead,” said Cahoon “Once we get sloppy, we lose our poise.”
The Minutemen came out in the second with much of the momentum. UMass’s James Marcou made a nice deke by a Lowell defensemen to find teammate Casey Wellman camped out in front, and Wellman one-timed the pass by Hamilton to make it a two-goal lead for the Minutemen at 5:15.
Right after that goal, both teams got matching penalties for hitting after the whistle to make it four-on-four. Twenty seconds later, Ortiz was whistled for elbowing to put the River Hawks on the man advantage.
The River Hawks made the most of their four-on-three when defensemen Nick Schaus made a pass over to Dehner, who took a few steps in and fired one upstairs past a screened Dainton, cutting the score in half to 2-1.
From that point on, Lowell stepped on the gas pedal full throttle, scoring two more goals to take a 3-2 lead.
Vallorani notched the second goal of the game with a shot from the high slot that went through Dainton’s five-hole. Paul Worthington capped off the scoring for the second period when he lunged forward in front of the net to hit the puck past a flopped Dainton.
The Minutemen got back into the game while on a four-on-four. Michael Marcou carried the puck from his own zone and shot it from the left faceoff circle, beating Hamilton far post.
Three minutes later, the Minuteman had their chance to take the lead when Lowell got two penalties a minute apart, giving them a five-on-three, but Lowell blocked a lot of shots and held Massachusetts at bay.
“We had a lot of guys stepping up and blocking shots,” said River Hawks’ forward Ben Holmstrom. “Overall, we were trying to outwork their five guys.”
River Hawks’ coach Blais MacDonald was very proud of his team’s effort tonight.
“This was such a great team win for the guys in the locker room; they deserve a lot of credit for their resolve and ability to handle adversity,” said MacDonald.
Lowell moves to 9-5-0 overall and 5-4-1 in Hockey East, and they faceoff next against non-conference opponent Princeton University for two at the Tsongas arena.
Massachusetts is now 9-5-0 overall and 5-4-0 in Hockey East and their next opponent is Merrimack at the Mullin Center Friday.