LOWELL, Mass. — Maine upended Massachusetts-Lowell on Saturday night by a final of 2-1 in front of a relatively bipartisan crowd of 4,696 at the Tsongas Center.
With the victory, Maine improves to 17-9-3 overall and 12-8-2 in Hockey East play. The win also brings the Black Bears into a tie with Merrimack for the final home-ice spot.
The loss drops the River Hawks to 19-8-0 overall, 14-7-0 in league play, and also snaps the club’s 10-game unbeaten streak at home.
“I thought it was a wonderful game of hockey,” said Mass.-Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “When you have chances and you don’t finish, it’s your fault.”
Despite Lowell controlling the pace through the first period, it was the Black Bears who were able to draw first blood when Kyle Beattie scored his fourth goal of the season. Beattie entered into the Lowell zone with Zach Kamrass trying to push him off the puck. He was then able to get around Kamrass and fire a shot from the slot that beat Doug Carr glove side to give Maine the 1-0 lead.
The River Hawks had a good chance to even the score early in the second period when David Vallorani found a burst of speed and made his way around Maine defense for a partial breakaway. Vallorani wristed the puck, aiming five-hole, which was turned aside by Dan Sullivan, retaining the one-goal lead.
“He tried to go five hole and I was able to get down in the butterfly position quickly,” said Sullivan. “I just kept the pad down and saved it.”
UML would finally tie the score at 15:12 on a goal by Colin Wright. After a scramble in the Maine zone, Matt Ferreira found some open space to take a shot from the right circle. The initial shot was blocked away by Sullivan, but a rebound found its way to Wright, who skated around the net and wristed a shot that found its way into the mesh, leveling the score at 1-1.
Just over three minutes later, Matt Mangene tallied what would turn out to be the game winner on the power play. After working the puck around in the Lowell zone, Beattie held up along the half wall and slid a pass to the bottom of the left right circle where Mangene was able to tip it into the empty cage.
“We were moving the puck well as a unit,” said Mangene. “[Beattie] saw me and hit me with a perfect pass. He had a great game tonight.”
The final period failed to hold any momentum for either team and a couple last-minute chances in front of the Maine net were snuffed out by Sullivan and his defensemen to secure the victory.
Both goalies were solid in net as Sullivan stopped 35 of the 36 shot sent his way. while Carr turned away 32 of 34.
“I was proud of [Sullivan],” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “I’ve been very impressed with Carr and Sully just stuck with him and showed that he can go toe-to-toe with the best in the league.”