BOSTON — Massachusetts-Lowell sophomore Derek Arnold scored his 10th goal of the season at 2:50 of overtime to lead the River Hawks to a dramatic road victory over Northeastern Saturday night at Matthews Arena, giving Lowell the sweep of the weekend home-and-home series.
Arnold’s goal came after Lowell withstood a massive barnstorm by Northeastern in the third period and much of overtime.
The winning goal occurred on what looked like an innocent clearing pass by Lowell’s Michael Budd. Budd flipped the puck high into the air. As it landed near center ice, two Northeastern defenders converged to try to bat the puck out of midair. Instead, the two collided, leaving a third Huskies player — Anthony Bitetto — as the final line of defense.
When the puck arrived at Bitetto’s skates, it took a strange bounce past him, allowing Arnold to walk in alone on Huskies netminder Chris Rawlings (22 saves). Arnold make a cut-across move to pull the netminder out of position and softly tuck the puck into the empty net.
“Last night, I kind of scored a similar goal,” said Arnold. “I was thinking the same move, coming down that lane. Just went with what I knew best.”
It was a game that one might say, when all is said and done, the Huskies deserved more than Lowell, but the River Hawks were opportunistic, cashing in on their opportunities.
The loss is Northeastern’s fourth straight — all in Hockey East play. According to coach Jim Madigan, this is a loss that will sting.
“The compete and the effort was big, it was there,” said Madigan. “At the end of the day, we’ve just got to find a way to win.”
Northeastern drew first blood when sophomore Braden Pimm scored his ninth goal of the season short-handed at 8:09 of the opening period. Referee Tim Low originally waved the goal off, believing that Pimm pushed the puck into the net with his hand. After reviewing the play on video though, he changed his decision, crediting the goal.
“The referee said he overruled it on the tape because [Pimm] made no motion with his arm to direct it into the net,” said Lowell coach Norm Bazin of the explanation he was offered. “That was his reasoning, and I had to respect his decision.”
The River Hawks responded at 12:21 on a power play. Rookie defenseman Zack Kamrass made a nifty feed to fellow freshman Scott Wilson, who one-timed the puck past Rawlings to even the score at one.
It was Wilson’s 11th goal of the season, the most for a Lowell freshman since Brad Rooney matched that mark in 1997-98.
In the second, the Huskies regained the lead when Garrett Vermeersch roofed a second rebound chance over Lowell netminder Doug Carr (29 saves) at 32 seconds.
Again, the River Hawks responded quickly when Colin Wright netted his first goal of the season, firing home the rebound of Terrence Wallin’s shot to knot the game, 2-2, at 3:04.
Both teams had opportunities to win the game in the third. Northeastern had two power plays where it dominated possession time, but Carr was spectacular, stopping a handful of opportunities at the goal mouth.
Late in the third, Lowell had its best chance when David Vallorani had three straight shots in close with two-and-a-half minutes remaining. Rawlings stopped the first two, and the third bid just went wide of the right post.
The victory for the River Hawks (14-6-0, 9-5-0 Hockey East) allows them to keep pace with Maine, which beat Boston College on Saturday, for fourth place in Hockey East. Northeastern (8-11-3, 4-11-2 Hockey East), conversely, failed to gain ground on eighth place New Hampshire, which lost on Saturday, 3-2 in overtime, to Merrimack. The Huskies are three points behind the Wildcats for the final playoff spot in Hockey East.
While the Huskies are hardly beginning to panic, they certainly realize the window is closing to earn league points.
“There’s only 10 or so league games left,” said Madigan. “There’s a sense of urgency for us to get wins.”