For Massachusetts-Lowell, the magic disappears

Massachusetts-Lowell’s magical season came crashing down Thursday in a 3-2 overtime loss to Yale that was far from as close as the score might have indicated. Yale outshot the River Hawks 47-18, including a 16-3 mark in the third period and 7-0 in overtime.

“Tonight, we certainly didn’t have it,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said in his opening postgame comments to the media.

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The River Hawks had showed remarkable consistency while racking up a 25-3-1 record since early December, winning 14 of 15 down the stretch. Their magic touch turned everything into gold. They earned the school’s first regular season Hockey East crown. They won its first Hockey East tournament title. And they advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time.

But in the penultimate game of a run at a national championship, the magic disappeared.

It was sudden and was as shocking as if Harry Potter could no longer wield his wand or if a Disney fairy failed to provide Cinderella with her horse-drawn carriage.

“We just didn’t bring it,” Lowell captain Riley Wetmore said. “[Yale] played a great game. We just didn’t have our legs.”

The River Hawks tried, but failed, to overcome an ice surface that seemed tilted against them. Yale dominated territorially, keeping Lowell in its zone, and controlled puck possession.

“We definitely tried to get pucks in deep on their D,” Joseph Pendenza said. “[But] their D played a really good game. They just kept coming in waves.

“They did what we usually do to other teams. So [it was] a little taste of our own medicine. They just got to the pucks first tonight, and they played a hell of a game.”

The role reversal resulted in the River Hawks, a No. 1 seed, getting outclassed by the last team to earn a berth in the tournament.

“First and foremost, they have excellent team speed, and they post a lot of guys in the neutral zone,” Bazin said. “Usually we can adjust to that. We have in the last couple of weeks against teams that are very similar.

“However, we had no response. It was just one of those games. The magic certainly wasn’t there tonight in terms of skating and being able to adjust on the fly. Some days you’re on and some days you’re not. Today we weren’t.

“We turned the puck over in the neutral zone, which is not like us. I didn’t think we had enough puck possession time to be a threat tonight, and usually that’s our forte, so credit to them.”

The River Hawks enjoyed one all-too-brief glimmer of what appeared to be the old magic, scoring twice within 14 seconds in the second period to tie the game 2-2. But that proved to be a mirage.

Not once all season had Lowell surrendered 40 shots. On this night, it gave up 47. Getting outshot 23-3 over the third period and overtime proved without a doubt the identity of the better team.

“That’s something we will think of a good part of this summer,” Bazin said. “As far as not having our legs tonight, there is no excuse for it. Both teams had the same amount of time off. We should have been very fresh because we have a good skating club. We just didn’t have it.

“The tables were turned tonight. We’ve [done this to] three or four teams in the last couple of weeks, and unfortunately it was our turn.”

The magic’s disappearance at the worst possible time, however, won’t tarnish Lowell’s season for the ages. Not even a 10-0 loss could have done that.

“It will take some time to put this behind us,” Bazin said. “This is going to sting for a while.

“But I’m very proud of this group. It had an opportunity to accomplish what no other group at Lowell has ever done.”