LOWELL, Mass. — Massachusetts-Lowell went two full periods in Saturday’s game against rival Massachusetts without a single power-play opportunity.
When finally given the chance – and plenty of them as UMass was whistled for four penalties early in the third – the 11th-ranked River Hawks put the game away scoring twice with the man advantage to cement a 5-2 victory in front of 5,162 at Tsongas Center.
The win, a night after Lowell clinched the annual Alumni Cup by winning the season series over UMass, finished off the first regular-season sweep of UMass since 1997-98.
Lowell head coach Norm Bazin said he was proud of his team’s ability to maintain its composure and not get frustrated for the lack of power plays early on.
“You’ve got to stay even keeled and I was proud of our guys because we didn’t let frustration creep in and we easily could have,” said Bazin. “In the third period, we were strong [when getting power plays].”
As pleased as Bazin was, UMass head coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon was just as frustrated for his club’s lack of ability to remain disciplined in the third. UMass was whistled for an early minor for tripping at 1:18 followed immediately by a double-minor to Eric Filiou 1:08 later.
After Derek Arnold buried the second of his two goals on the night during the two-man advantage giving the River Hawks a 4-2 lead, Steven Guzzo was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct at 8:12.
The River Hawks scored again on the power play, this time with Terrence Wallin netting his sixth of the season.
“It’s our own discipline, that’s probably a good word,” said Cahoon. “Our ability to manage ourselves is a real issue for this team. It shows itself on the road in a big way. If you don’t manage the game and yourselves in terms of the penalties you take, you have little chance of winning on the road.”
The River Hawks dominated the first period, outshooting UMass 13-5. That pressure translated to a 2-0 lead.
Arnold nearly got the River Hawks on the board at 4:37, ringing a rebound bid off the post with UMass goaltender Jeff Teglia (24 saves) down and out. Arnold wouldn’t make that mistake twice and when Teglia bobbled a dump-in attempt, the sophomore netted his 11th goal of the season at 10:35.
Matt Ferreira gave Lowell a two-goal lead at 17:42, getting behind the UMass defense on a two-on-two and burying a Wallin pass five-hole on Teglia.
In the second, though, UMass responded with a vengeance trying to get back in the game and thanks to a quick outburst midway through the frame, did just that.
Defenseman Joel Hanley fired a bad angle shot from the left halfboards that went through a two-man screen and past Lowell netminder Doug Carr (28 saves) at 9:17. Then after Carr made two stops on a 3-on-1 later in the frame, he couldn’t get to the second rebound, allowing Patrick Kiley to poke home a rebound and knot the game at 2 at 15:28.
Immediately, though, the River Hawks responded, retaking the lead at 16:50. Friday’s hero, Josh Holmstrom, sent David Vallorani in alone. Though Teglia stopped Vallorani’s shot, Holstrom was right there for the follow-up giving Lowell the lead at 3-2.
In the closing seconds, Lowell had the chance to regain the two-goal cushion when Arnold raced in alone. Pulling Teglia down, he looked to have an empty net before the sophomore netminder stopped the big with the butt of his stick.
The victory and the weekend sweep, the second in a row for Lowell with a loss to Providence last Tuesday sandwiched between, helps catapult the River Hawks (16-7-0, 11-6-0 Hockey East) into fourth place in Hockey East, a point ahead of Merrimack which was idle on Saturday, but will host Providence on Sunday.
The River Hawks are just three points behind first-place Boston College and Boston University, each tied with 25 points, but Lowell has three games in hand on BC and two on BU.
UMass (9-10-5, 5-8-4 Hockey East), on the other hand, finds itself in a tight race for the final playoff spot. Tied for seventh place with Northeastern, which swept Vermont, both teams are just a point ahead of ninth-place New Hampshire.