LOWELL, Mass. — Matt Irwin fired a slap shot with 1:07 left to give the No. 19 University of Massachusetts a huge victory, as they defeated No. 14 University of Massachusetts-Lowell, 2-1, in front of a crowd of 4,688 at Tsongas Arena.
“Will Ortiz had such a great screen, I couldn’t see where it actually ended up, but it hit the crossbar and went down; we will take it when we can get them,” said Irwin of his game-winner.
The goal came on a five-on-three power play from two penalties by Lowell players’ Riley Wetmore and Ben Holmstrom.
The Minutemen swept a big series this weekend, and move into fourth place overall in Hockey East with a record of 9-6-0.
Lowell thought that they had the first goal of the game on a one-timer from Chris Auger, who fired a shot past Dainton’s glove. The goal went under review because River Hawks’ forward David Vallorani was standing in the crease when the puck went in. The goal was eventually disallowed.
“Yeah it was one of the those things and it started right from the very beginning,” said River Hawks’ coach Blaise Macdonald. “It’s hard to believe we have that goal called back on the four-on-four. We watched it on video. I don’t know; it was a tough call.”
About three minutes after the disallowed goal, the Minutemen scored a goal of their own at 5:28 in the first by Marc Concannon.
Concannon received a pass across the crease from teammate Rocco Carzo and ripped a shot upstairs passed a sprawling Carter Hutton (15 saves).
Lowell had a number of chances in the first period, but they were denied by great goaltending from Paul Dainton (28 saves). The save of the period by Dainton came on a River Hawks’ power play. Ben Holmstrom received a pass down low and shot to the near side of the net. Dainton came across and took the shot off his chest.
“I saw the puck very well tonight,” said Dainton about his performance. “The defense and forwards did a great job playing in the lanes and blocking shots. Most of the shots that I had were direct shots; there were not many tips, not many screens, so a lot of the shots were pretty easy.”
One word to describe the second period would be bizarre. It started off with a five-minute major given to River Hawks’ defensemen Maury Edwards for high sticking. He hit the Minuteman’s leading scorer James Marcou in the head, causing Marcou to fall to the ice. UMass was not able to convert on the five-minute power play.
With about a minute left to the major penalty by Edwards, Minutemen forward Casey Wellman got slapped with a two-minute minor and a 10-minute misconduct for shooting after the whistle.
With 12 minutes left, the River Hawks finally got one by Dainton with a beautiful spin pass from behind the net by Vallorani, out to an open Patrick Cey for a one-timer.
The third period was dominated by Lowell, but they had trouble staying out of the box and gave UMass too many opportunities with the man advantage. They had five penalties in the third, which does not settle well with MacDonald.
“We absolutely, positively killed ourselves by having to kill penalties in the third period.”
Massachusetts coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon was happy with the way his team was able to weather any storm Lowell had going.
“I just thought we weathered some storms,” said Cahoon “Especially in the second period, with Wellman out for 10 minutes, that was a big point in the game to get through the second period, and make it a 20-minute game. I am pleased with the effort in the third period and how we finished the game.”
Lowell now moves to 12-9-2 overall and 6-6-2 in Hockey East. Next weekend doesn’t get any easier, with two home games against Merrimack on Friday and Boston College on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts will be tested again with two games next weekend against Vermont at the Mullins Center.
Overall, Cahoon is happy where is team is right now.
“It’s a great place to be in the middle of January , it’s a big step we took, it’s a condensed season right now so every game becomes that much more meaningful.”