LOWELL, Mass. — Massachusetts-Lowell pulled away from Bentley in a game marked for two periods by sloppy play and poor goaltending, to win 8-5 on Tuesday. Matt Ferreira scored two goals and Riley Wetmore provided the game-winner. The River Hawks’ power play struck four times.
Lowell has won two of three games in the span of five days after enduring a 13-game losing streak.
“The last three games we’ve been playing really good hockey,” Ferreira said. “It was important today to keep it going with a big win going into the weekend. So it wasn’t pretty, but it was a big win for us.”
The River Hawks played dramatically better team defense in the third period after Wetmore scored the eventual game-winner late in the second. They held Bentley to only seven shots over the final 20 minutes, a dramatic improvement over the 26 shots surrendered during the first 40.
Third-string goaltender T.J. Massie chipped in with a big save on the lone major breakdown, a Brett Gensler breakaway. As a result, Massie recorded his first win of the year.
“I thought we did a very good job offensively,” UML coach Blaise MacDonald said. “We possessed the puck extremely well from the red line on into their zone.
“But I give Bentley a lot of credit. They’re a very good cycling team in their offensive zone. They put it to us at times in our D zone. We’ve got to play better defensively than that.”
Bentley provided a strong offensive showing, but goaltender Joe Calvi surrendered some uncharacteristically weak goals and in front of him his teammates’ defense was often lacking.
“It was a pretty solid exhibition hockey game,” Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist said with a rueful laugh. “It didn’t really resemble much of the feel of a college hockey game. I don’t think either team could come away very happy with their defensive play. Down the stretch, defense can win championships, so we have some things to work on.”
On a positive note, the Falcons got two goals from Gensler, a freshman who hadn’t scored since Dec. 3 after a strong start.
“He’s been a great addition to our team,” Soderquist said. “He’s a pretty dynamic player and hopefully he gets going in this last month.”
Bentley grabbed an early and very temporary lead at 6:55 of the first period when Brett Hartung put the puck on net from the right boards and Aaron Stonacek deflected it home.
Just 29 seconds later, however, Lowell evened the score and within five minutes the River Hawks were leading, 3-1. The tying goal was a weak one from the right goal line by Jason DeLuca on a delayed penalty.
David Vallorani made it 2-1, firing from low inside the right faceoff circle, before Michael Budd extended the lead while short-handed. Joseph Pendenza stole the puck and backhanded a pass to Budd, uncovered in the slot.
Bentley’s Erik Peterson and Lowell’s Derek Arnold swapped clanged posts on two-on-ones in the closing minutes of the period.
The Falcons came out flying after intermission, scoring goals at 3:05 and 3:31 to tie the score, 3-3. Jared Rickord struck first with a backhander and Gensler stuffed it inside the left post 26 seconds later.
The scoring pace didn’t slow down. By period’s end the two teams had combined for seven goals, three on the power play.
Ferreira and Gensler swapped man-advantage goals before Patrick Cey scored on yet another weak goal, this one a trickler that seemed to take five seconds to make it through Calvi and into the net.
Bentley tied it, 5-5, at 14:03 on a nice left-to-right pass from Dustin Cloutier to Peterson, who buried it into the open net.
The River Hawks closed out the period’s scoring with a perfect mid-air deflection by Riley Wetmore of a Maury Edwards shot from the right point.
At 1:48 of the third, Lowell scored another power-play goal, this one four-on-three, as Ferreira roofed it from right side with a teammate perched on the weak-side post.
Cey added his second goal of the night into an empty net with 26 seconds remaining.