LOWELL, Mass. — The No. 18 Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks upset the No. 3 Boston College Eagles on Friday night in front of nearly 6,000 fans, by a final score of 3-2.
With the victory, Lowell improves to 10-4-0 overall and 7-3-0 in Hockey East, while the Eagles fall to 12-6-0 overall and 9-4-0 within the conference.
“Our goal was to take advantage of the crowd tonight, and we were very pleased because we’ve got great fans,” said Massachusetts-Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “Our guys came to battle.”
The River Hawks got on the board just under five minutes into the first period when David Vallorani scored his fifth goal of the season. After Terrence Wallin took a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for making contact to the head of Bill Arnold, Mass.-Lowell caught some good fortune when Paul Carey evened up the skaters with a hooking penalty of his own.
Skating four-on-four, Chad Ruhwedel sent the puck up to Vallorani in the neutral zone. Vallorani then turned on the jets and skated through both Eagles defensemen and beat goaltender Brian Billet to give Lowell a 1-0 lead.
Boston College followed up the early strike against with a good chance of their own. Skating in two-on-one, Carey wristed a shot toward the top corner of the net that was snagged out of the air by goaltender Doug Carr to retain the one-goal lead.
Mass.-Lowell then doubled its lead at 12:07 of the first period with a power-play strike by Derek Arnold. Taking the faceoff with a second of five-on-three time remaining, the River Hawks were able to keep the puck moving in the BC zone, allowing an unmarked Matt Ferreira to move into the middle of the right circle. Ferreira then sent a perfect pass through the slot to Arnold, who ripped a shot into an empty net to increase Lowell’s lead to 2-0. The goal was Arnold’s seventh of the season.
“Lowell dominated the first period,” said BC coach Jerry York. “They really jumped out and got that two-nothing lead. The second period we got much better.”
Just 1:40 into the second period, the Eagles cut the deficit in half. On a power play, Pat Mullane passed to an open Barry Almeida in the right circle. Almeida then wristed a shot on net that trickled through Carr to make it 2-1. The tally was Almeida’s 10th of the season.
BC nearly tied the game halfway through the period when Steven Whitney had a golden opportunity in the slot. After some prolonged forechecking in the Mass.-Lowell zone, Mullane hit a wide open Whitney in the slot, who fired a shot that was once again gloved by Carr.
“I feel confident pretty much every game,” said Carr. “I just try to do my job when I’m called upon.”
The River Hawks regained their two goal advantage on the eventual game-winner eight minutes into the third period on a breakaway goal by Joseph Pendenza. After getting behind the BC defense, Pendenza took a perfect pass from Stephen Buco at his own blue line. He then skated in alone on Billet and beat him five-hole, after faking to the backhand, for his fourth goal of the year.
Bill Arnold made it close for the Eagles with the extra attacker and under a minute left when he banked a rebound out of the air and into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season. The Eagles pushed hard to get the equalizer in the dying seconds, but Carr and the Mass.-Lowell defense stood strong and held on for the 3-2 victory.
Carr finished the night turning away 23 of 25 shots en route to his eighth consecutive win. Billet stopped 24 shots in his first collegiate defeat.
“Lowell played well; they are a much improved team and a tough team to play against,” said York. “We’re playing good hockey and we’re leading the league. We’d love to be 36-0, but that’s not happening, not in this league.”