BOSTON - Despite one hiccup by Tyler Wall at the beginning of Friday evening’s Hockey East semifinal between UMass Lowell and Notre Dame, the River Hawks dominated the game from start to finish, securing a berth in the Hockey East final. Here are three takeaways from Lowell’s 5-1 victory.
1. Going into Friday’s game, the matchup to watch appeared to be the UMass-Lowell attack vs. Cal Petersen, a Hockey East first-team goaltender. Lowell got the better of the matchup, putting in five goals in the course of a masterful effort in the offensive zone. The Lowell offense was generated not in grade-A areas, but from above the circles. Save for Michael Kapla’s second-period goal, Lowell’s converted chances that were generated in the offensive zone came from either the high slot or above the circles, finding traffic in front. While the River Hawks got some looks in grade-A areas, Lowell’s best chances came from getting pucks to the net in space.
2. There is really no other way to describe Notre Dame’s performance other than bad. The Irish spent most of the first period either pinned in their zone or chasing the puck in the offensive zone. With a whole period of potential offense lost, by the time the Irish got their footing, they were playing catch-up against a very dangerous scoring attack and a difficult goalie to score on. ”The goal we scored was a gift,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “We had a lot of uncharacteristic things, we turned pucks over in our end, we turned pucks over in the offensive end too that led to goals.”
3. If anyone had any doubt ever about the staying power of the rise of the River Hawks in Hockey East tournament play, Friday evening’s game should put that to rest. With the win, the River Hawks will play in their fifth consecutive Hockey East tournament final. With year-after-year of competitive teams coming out of the Tsongas Center, the River Hawks have earned their place amongst the league’s giants. “I think the guys like playing here, there’s no question about it,” UML coach Norm Bazin said. “It’s an exciting time of year to be playing hockey. It shows stability, it shows a consistency in the program, and it shows accountability, and the guys are itching to come back this year.”