STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — It wasn’t quite the shellacking some expected, but No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell still shut out Penn State 4-0 in the first meeting between the two clubs Thursday night at the Pegula Ice Arena.
River Hawks goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves while earning his team its first shutout of the season.
“I thought it was an excellent hockey game; I thought it was a great opponent,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said. “They threw a lot of pucks to our net and I’m thankful [Hellebuyck] was on tonight. It was a lot to handle.”
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky also said he felt that the shutout was a team effort by the River Hawks. Gadowsky conceded that Lowell was the better team.
The first shot for UML came on a golden opportunity for Adam Chapie as he scored his fifth goal of the season just 1:51 of the first period. He darted into the slot unnoticed while linemates Stephen Bucco and Scott Wilson won a battle along the boards.
“Sometimes that’s a kiss of death,” Bazin said. “I like scoring first but sometimes you score early in the game and people think it’s going to be easy. Nothing comes easy here.”
The Nittany Lions stayed in the game while the visibly faster River Hawks tried to pull further out in front. But Penn State goaltender Matt Skoff stopped the nine other shots thrown his way in the first stanza.
The second goal was the result of bad luck for Skoff. The sophomore had stopped a shot and appeared to have it underneath him. Scott Wilson jammed his stick in between Skoff’s pads and knocked the puck into the back of the cage. Skoff immediately took his mask off and turned to the referee to voice his displeasure, but the goal stood.
Exactly two minutes later, Derek Arnold buried a rebound off his own shot after there was nobody in a white sweater close enough to tidy a loose puck in the crease.
The Lions still managed to outshoot the River Hawks 15-12 in the second period even though they gave up two goals.
Arnold added another to his goal total at 18:02 of the third period after Skoff couldn’t get his left pad down after stopping the initial shot.
Despite the goose egg on the scoreboard, Penn State still outshot the River Hawks 13-6 in the third and 37-28 for the game.
“I thought it was a positive for the last half of the game,” Gadowsky said. “Even though we had nine or 10 shots on the board I just didn’t feel good about [our chances]. I felt like we never put them on their heels like we did in the second half. I wouldn’t call them grade A, but we did a better job of generating chances.”
Lowell improved to 5-1 on the road this season and 7-4 overall.
The victory was also the River Hawks’ third against a Big Ten opponent. They also beat Michigan and Michigan State on the road.
What makes the River Hawks so good on the road this year is still unknown to Bazin.
“It’s a good question,” Bazin said. “If we could figure that out, you and I, that could solve a lot of problems. Every year is a little different and we hope to be better at home in the future but it started off this way and we’re keeping things pretty simple on the road. Maybe that’s the key.”