LOWELL, Mass. — Massachusetts-Lowell won the battle of the Massachusetts state schools on Saturday night, topping the Massachusetts, 4-0, in front of 4,924 at the Tsongas Center.
With the victory, UML improves to 4-3-0 in Hockey East and 6-4-0 overall. The Minutemen fall to 4-5-3 overall and 2-5-3 in the conference.
“We didn’t play as hard as we needed to play,” said Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon. “[Lowell] did and that was the difference. It was a difference in mentality, and they were the better team.”
Coming off of a crushing 5-0 loss to New Hampshire on Friday, the River Hawks were able to control the play through most of the first period, but were unable to get on the board before the intermission.
On the power play, Zach Kamrass received the puck at the point off of the faceoff win by Riley Wetmore. Kamrass found a shooting lane and wristed a shot that beat UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz, but rattled away off the post.
Despite being outshot, 12-2, in the period, the Minutemen were not without their own chances early on. Leading a three-on-one into the Lowell zone, leading scorer T.J. Syner narrowly missed the net on a wrist shot from the left circle.
The stalemate was finally broken when Lowell went on the power play midway through the second stanza. Off the faceoff, Wetmore won the puck back to Chad Ruhwedel at the blue line. Ruhwedel sent the puck down to David Vallorani, who was stationed along the half wall. Vallorani then faked a slap shot before wristing the puck into the mesh for his second goal of the season, giving the River Hawks a 1-0 lead.
It did not take long for Lowell to double their lead when, after putting up some good pressure in the UMass zone, the puck trickled back to Tim Corcoran at the point. Corcoran then sent what seemed to be a harmless shot toward the net that found its way into the Minutemen net to give UMass Lowell a 2-0 lead. The goal by Corcoran, a senior, marked his first collegiate tally.
“It felt really good. I just tried to get the puck on net,” said Corcoran. “It felt great to score a goal and even better to get the win. I think that gave us a jump, for sure.”
The River Hawks continued controlled the play for the rest of the second period and into the third before increasing their lead to three on a goal by Ruhwedel. Skating four aside, Ruhwedel dove to poke the puck out of his own zone and created a two-on-one going the other way. Leading the odd man rush, Ruhwedel fired a shot that beat Mastalerz glove side.
Lowell scored their final goal of the night when they capitalized on yet another power play. After winning the puck behind the net, Wetmore wrapped around and jammed the puck on net. The rebound came back to Wetmore in the slot where his second shot found its way through Mastalerz and into the back of the net.
“We were very pleased with our effort tonight coming off of last night’s loss,” said Lowell head coach Norm Bazin. “We were really embarrassed by [last night's 5-0 loss to New Hampshire] and I was really glad to see the pride that the guys showed tonight.”
Lowell goaltender Doug Carr was solid in net for the River Hawks, stopping all sixteen shots that he faced en route to his first career shutout. The sophomore netminder did not see much rubber from his opponent, but came up with some timely stops, including snuffing out a two-on-one chance from Emerson Auvenshi early in the second period.
Mastalerz turned away 30 of 34 shots he faced in the Massachusetts net.
The win for the River Hawks surpasses the club’s total of five that they had all of last year under former coach Blaise McDonald.