LOWELL, Mass. — Massachusetts-Lowell swept of the University of Vermont on Saturday night with a 6-4 win in front of a home crowd of 5,125 at the Tsongas Center.
The win improves Lowell’s record to 18-7-0 overall, and 13-6-0 in Hockey East, good for second place in the league.
The Catamounts fall to 5-21-1 and 2-17-1 within the conference.
“I thought we got beat by a very good hockey team tonight,” said UVM coach Kevin Sneddon. “Lowell did a good job and deserved the weekend. We’re disappointed. We got off to a bad start tonight.”
After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, Mass.-Lowell took advantage of a power play five minutes into the game for the first lead of the night. After losing possession in the Vermont end, Chad Ruhwedel intercepted a clearing attempt and found some open space in the top of the right circle. The defenseman then fired a shot that beat Catamounts goaltender Alex Vazzano glove side. The goal was Ruhwedel’s third of the year.
The River Hawks doubled their lead just 56 seconds later when Vazzano misplayed a slap shot from behind the blue line by Terrence Wallin that beat him stick side. Vazzano was pulled following the goal and replaced by Rob Madore.
“I thought Alex played great last night,” said Sneddon. “But I could tell early on that he just wasn’t ready to play tonight.”
Although Lowell continued to dominate play after Wallin’s goal, it was Vermont that notched the game’s next tally. Working on the man advantage, Kyle Reynolds flipped a puck toward the net that was tipped on net by Drew MacKenzie. The initial stop was made by River Hawks netminder Doug Carr, but the rebound was chipped in by Sebastian Stalberg, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Mass.-Lowell regained its two-goal lead at 13:51 of the first on a goal by Scott Wilson. Off of a faceoff win by Riley Wetmore, Wilson one-timed a slap shot past Madore from the top of the left circle for his 13th goal of the season.
“It was a good draw win by [Wetmore],” said Wilson. “I saw that we got some traffic in front of the net, so I just shot it.”
Vermont concluded the scoring of the back-and-forth first period on a goal by Kyle Reynolds. After a turnover by the River Hawks’ defense, Reynolds took the puck in alone on Carr and lifted a backhanded shot into the mesh to end the first period with 3-2 deficit.
The River Hawks began the second stanza on the man advantage, and were able to use the power play to keep momentum on their side. Just 24 seconds after having a power-play goal waved off for a crease violation, Mass.-Lowell grabbed its third two-goal lead of the night when Derek Arnold hopped on a loose puck and jammed it home for a 4-2 lead.
Mass.-Lowell upped the lead to three when, once again off of a faceoff, Wilson wristed a shot toward the net that was redirected by Colin Wright into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
The majority of the third period was held at a stalemate between the two clubs, despite the fact that Mass.-Lowell spent nearly half of it on the penalty kill.
Vermont mounted a late comeback when it went up two skaters, plus the extra attacker, for the final two minutes.
A pair of power-play goals from Stalberg and Matt White made it close, but an empty-net tally from Josh Holmstrom was enough for the River Hawks to seal the 6-4 victory.
“We felt pretty happy to get out of that one,” said Mass.-Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “I don’t care where [Vermont] is in the standings, they’re a very good team. It’s such a good conference that it doesn’t really make a difference if you’re in first or last.”
Scott Wilson came up big yet again for Mass.-Lowell, picking up a goal and two assists to wrap up a five-point weekend (two goals and three assists). Kyle Reynolds led the Catamounts vain effort with four points of his own (one goal and three assists).
“Coach [Bazin] has put me in the right situations to succeed, and I’ve been able to put up some points,” said Wilson, who is now leading the team with 26 points as a freshman. “But we’re competing for a national title, so points and standings don’t really mean anything to us. We’re always looking to move forward, and right now forward is the top.”