Three takeaways from UMass Lowell’s 5-0 victory over Cornell in the Northeast Regional

UMass Lowell goalie Tyler Wall and defensemen Mattias Göransson and Tyler Mueller watch a puck go over the net as Cornell’s Jake Weidner gets pushed out of the way (photo: Richard T Gagnon).

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A 5-0 score did not appropriately represent how tight UMass Lowell’s victory was over Cornell in Saturday’s NCAA Northeast Regional semifinals. In fact, the shutout for goaltender Tyler Wall was nearly out in the opening minute when it appeared Cornell scored.

But not so fast. That leads the three takeaways from Saturday’s game:

1. Reversal of Cornell goal swaps early momentum

It appeared that Mitch Vanderlaan gave the Big Red the lead just 53 seconds into Saturday’s game. But upon video review, something that was used extensively in the contest (totaling 17 minutes in additional time it took to play the game), it was ruled the puck was knocked down by a high stick prior to the original shot by Jake Weidner.

“I kind of expected it to get waved off,” said Weidner. “I had a pretty good view of it.”

From that moment, Lowell’s defense tightened up and allowed very little. The River Hawks struck less than six minutes later and added two additional goals in the second and third periods.

2. Lowell took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’

With 12 of its 16 skaters 6-foot-1 or larger, Cornell came at Lowell with a physical element effectively throughout the game. The River Hawks effectively absorbed the hits and used speed to combat things.

When Cornell was successful in lining up River Hawks skaters, the ability to move the puck a split second in advance helped alleviate the Big Red pressure.

“They’re big and we wanted to keep moving — move the puck, move our feet,” said Lowell freshman Ryan Lohin. “We were able to do that throughout the game.”

Coach Norm Bazin summed it up more succinctly.

“If you’re not moving, you’re a sitting duck,” said Bazin.

3. Noon start didn’t faze the combatants

It’s not often in college hockey that you wake up, eat breakfast and then head to the rink. That was the case for both teams with a noon EDT start for the opening game of the regional.

You would think that might annoy players, but neither team seemed to mind.

“We’re excited to get it going early in the day,” said Lowell captain Michael Kapla, whose River Hawks previously played a 3 p.m. game against New Hampshire in the Hockey East quarterfinals. “We didn’t want to sit around all day. We wanted to get right at it.”

Kapla’s River Hawks can rest a little longer before Sunday’s regional final. The game is slated for a 3:30 p.m. EDT puck drop.

1 COMMENT

  1. How did Cornell get to 11 in the PWR? They are by far the worst team in the tourney.
    With all the discussion of how weak PSU’s schedule was, where is the same scrutiny of Cornell’s schedule?

    • Overrated team based on successes years ago. Good to see the comments on their “gooning” – refs have to start cracking down on it.

    • Perhaps Cornells fans travel better or they more quality shots on goal? I’ve been told that’s important.

          • …based on the fact every single home game is a sellout or near-sellout, based on the fact Cornell fans travel better than any team’s (maybe other than UND’s), and based on the fact that student section actually cares. Yesterday’s game was six hours from campus and Cornell fans still filled much of the rink and were considerably louder than the UML fans who had to travel 30 minutes to get there

          • LOL that stat doesn’t account for rink capacity. Are you being intentionally obtuse? There is exactly one team with a higher average attendance than Cornell’s that could fit all those fans into Lynah Rink

          • Look again, it does Turd. You’re at 91% capacity, not in the top 10. At this point, I’m done with you. I though folks at Cornell were smarter…

          • Sorry your team lost, but you still are either clueless or moving the goal posts and hoping I’m too dumb to notice. The “20th” ranking facially doesn’t take into account capacity. The “91%” number would be equally true whether the games drew 91/100 fans or 9100/10000. Cornell, despite its relatively small size and location far from any major city, has had among the best fanbases in college hockey for generations. This is indisputable.

          • 91.6% capacity is good for 9th in the country, but only 3rd in your own league behind Quinny and Union.

          • Again, there are serious problems with a % capacity number. It’s also worth pointing out that Q and U are coming off years which saw their greatest success in program history, whereas Cornell just ended its longest drought of NCAA appearances in Schafer’s tenure. 92% is low for Lynah; it will increase in the years to come.

          • So, above you wrote that it didn’t take into account rink capacity, but now there are problems with using rink capacity? I don’t care either way, in fact I was saying 9th highest % isn’t bad. My team has had 4 rough years and gone from near capacity to not much over 70%, so I know it drops when the team struggles, that’s natural for the casual fan. I have missed 2 home games in 30 years, but few people are that kind of fan and feel like they are wasting money.

          • There are problems with both metrics! For instance, the fact that it includes the four games this season that took place over intersession. Cornell also had a terrible snowstorm during one game, had a game postponed to Sunday, etc. But overall, not a bad year attendance-wise, given that Cornell was coming off a relatively difficult stretch.

          • I only see two home games that occurred over break, 1/21 and 1/22. Attendance there was 3955 and 4171, both over the season average. The prior two home games to that were 12/2 and 12/3, which drew 3944 and 3683. The Sunday game was a bit lower at 3576, but probably because of the opponent. I’m also thinking the snowstorm game was 2/11 and it’s listed as a sellout. If your team deflected and played D like you, maybe you would still be playing.

          • Sunday games always see significantly smaller crowds. Moreover, it’s not particularly relevant what the crowd size was during the break games, so long as it wasn’t a sellout; the fact is that the crowd would certainly have been bigger if it were during the semester, up to and including a full sellout.

            I appreciate the fact-checking (I really do) but Sunday/intersession games always draw smaller crowds than they otherwise would. As you said, 92% (9th in college hockey) is not a bad number considering the recent downturn in success. Nonetheless, in almost any other year it would be higher.

          • Agreed on Sunday crowds, but you were also playing Brown. I look at it as no attendance figure is perfect, but if you’re over 90% and it’s difficult to get seats at times (or all the time), the arena is the right size for your area and team.

            I always try to fact check before writing. Right or wrong, I try to give accurate information and my opinion. I may antagonize a bit and have fun, but also try not to act like a complete jerk. I have a long history as a college hockey fan and remember a lot about Cornell in the 80’s, not really before that, they have always had the hard hitting reputation, as you said. Best of luck in the coming years and enjoy your summer!

          • For the record, Cornell has been, and is by far the best traveling team in the East… ECAC, HEA, or AHA. Certainly not like North Dakota, but more similar to Wisconsin and maybe Minnesota.

          • Yeah, just about every game was a sellout if you discount the games during intersession. The last few years, during which Cornell has been less successful than it’s typically been, have seen attendance decline slightly. But over the span of the last two decades there has been no place more difficult for an opposing team to play than at Lynah Rink.

    • They got to 11 in the PWR by losing six games in the entire regular season in a conference that has produced two of the last four national champions and that this year produced one of the top three teams in the country. And they did this despite losing half their defense to injury. For two months they’ve only been able to dress five D-men. I’m glad your team, which was trash for ages until taking off six years ago (unlike Cornell, which has competed for national championships for decades), has been healthy the entire season. Good luck going 20-6 when half your defense is out for the season.

      • Easy schedules produce lots of wins. How does the ECAC winning two of the last four Natty’s relate to Cornell? Cornell hasn’t been in the tourney since ’12. Hang your hat on fandom if you must but they were the worst team in the tourney.

        • You literally just accused Cornell of having an easy schedule and now you’re asking how the ECAC having won two of the last four national championships relates to Cornell.

          Cornell made the tournament in ’12 and was the first team outside the bubble in ’14 and ’16. They also made the tournament in ’02, ’03, ’05, ’06, ’09, and ’10.

          Calling Cornell the worst team in the tournament is hilarious. They just went up against one of the best four teams in the country: SOG were equal, Cornell had an early goal disallowed on incredibly shaky grounds, and UML added two goals in garbage time. Cornell also went 2-0-1 against Union this year, but I don’t see you ripping on them. Cornell is by any objective metric better than Ohio State, Michigan Tech, and Air Force. To call them the worst team in the tournament after one game against one of the best teams in the country is a joke. To draw such a strong conclusion from any one game is itself a joke.

    • Just a theory… The Ivies in general play 5-6 less games per season, meaning 5-6 less non-conference games. For argument’s sake, unless Cornell scheduled mostly top-ranked teams, more wins or losses against average or weaker teams would theoretically hurt their PWR right?

      To my point… PSU played 10 non-con games vs weak PWR teams (Princeton, Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara, Alaska-Anchorage, Arizona State). Cornell played just 5 non-con games total (vs. Merrimack, UNH, N.Michigan, Colorado College). Who looks worse in the PWR?

      So, the shorter schedule and less non-con losses in particular benefits ECACH teams like Cornell, Yale or Harvard.

      • I don’t really understand what you’re getting at. All of the above is already priced into the PWR. Also, ECAC teams traditionally have difficult OOC schedules.

          • Yes, not this year (it just so happened that teams like Miami and CC had down years when they were scheduled to play ECAC teams), but in most years it’s the case. A year or two ago Cornell literally had the toughest OOC schedule in the country. Harvard’s OOC includes either one or two games against each of BC and BU every year. Etc

  2. I think the PW definitely needs changing. Union btw is also competing for skunker, and also was ranked too high in the PW all season long. On another note, Veccs did little to hammer home a case for Hobey in his last two games. If anything, Foo was the better player down the stretch. Finally, Saks was NOT great for Union this year. And Young should have been inserted instead of Kupsky.

  3. Man did Cornell goon it up this game. I understand trying to use your size, but they took some shots at defenseless players

    • Yup, plenty of high hits, lot of loose elbows. Did them no good though, UML was just too fast, too tight defensively.

      • This is an absolute garbage comment. Cornell has always played physically but has absolutely never “goon[ed] it up” or “[taken] shots at defenseless players.” The refs called nothing about any illegal hit until the finals minutes, and frankly that 5-minute major was a terrible call. Cornell is a big, physical team, maybe not what you typically see in Hockey East. To accuse them of intentionally targeting defenseless players, when all they’re trying to do is win a hockey game, evidences a total lack of understanding about the rules and is really just a terrible thing to say about a team playing its heart out, despite being ravaged by injuries, with no malicious intent whatsoever.

        • So, what I saw was an aberration? Take the blinders off Waldo. The officials were letting the players play. The 5:00 major though, was spot on. When did I say they were targeting defenseless players. Maybe you need to come back here and revisit when you’re not so butthurt?

          • The “defenseless players” line was from Jason. I was responding to both of you simultaneously since you’re both equally clueless about how hockey works. Watch a game in the NCHC or ECAC or frankly watch a game in the NHL to better inform yourself about how the play physically within the rules, which Cornell has always done.

            Congrats to you both–you beat a team that lost three top-four defensemen for the season with the help of a bad no-goal review in the first minute. Your fans who traveled 30 minutes to get to the rink were quieter than the Cornell fans who traveled six hours. I get that your program was a perennial bottom-feeder until very recently and maybe that’s why you’re so inexperienced at analyzing a hockey game, but hopefully UML will continue to see success in the years to come and its fans will pick up on the rules of hockey.

        • Just because the deaf, dumb and blind refs didn’t call the penalties that most definitely should have been called does not absolve Cornell from goon hockey.

          • Those same “deaf, dumb and blind refs” overturned a Cornell goal with no conclusive evidence whatsoever

          • Perhaps you didn’t see the replay or are unaware that the Cornell players expected it to be ruled “no goal”…..

          • Saw the replays. Key word there is “conclusive” – it was an incredibly close call, but the call on the ice was a goal and there was no conclusive evidence to overturn it

  4. Cornell is a VERY DIRTY hockey team! The refs had their heads up their asses the whole game. I LOVE good, clean hard hitting hockey (see the Minnesota/Notre Dame game), but Big Red played like Big Goons. Good riddance!

    • It doesn’t matter how many times you spout this drivel; it’s still drivel. Cornell has a reputation as a physical team, but not as a dirty team. This has been true for many years and it will hold true for many years to come. If your team isn’t willing to play physically (within the rules), maybe it should take up checkers instead of hockey.

      • Really, DUMBASS?????? In case you didn’t notice, my team DID show up and won 5-0. Cornell still played like goons. Why don’t you crawl back into “Slapshot”???????

        • Let’s throw in random words in ALL CAPS and a bunch of QUESTION MARKS to mask the fact that you have literally no idea what is and isn’t a good hit in hockey?????? Your team isn’t physical–good for you–but that doesn’t mean other teams aren’t allowed to be physical within the rules. If the Cornell goal isn’t wrongly disallowed it’s a completely different hockey game

    • Refs were from Atlantic hockey and NCHC. Linesmen; NCHC and D-3. Never saw any of them before, so I have no idea what kind of game they typically call, but I wasn’t impressed with what I saw yesterday.

          • I also looked them up individually and it is the case. There also is no way the NCAA would use a D3 linesman in a regional, if he had no D1 experience. they also rarely, if ever combine leagues for a game in the NCAA’s. NCHC link: http://www.nchchockey.com/officiating. The two in question, because they have worked AHA and MIAC in the past are referee Binda (AHA) and linesman Hills (MIAC). Please check the box score for UND/SCSU playoff game on 3/10… they were both on the ice. Just like any other leagues, they do share officials during the season and these guys have also done ECHL, WCHA, etc…

  5. 4. Manchester city planners did an awful job with logistics this weekend.
    In addition to the Regional at SNHU Arena, they booked a Road race at virtually the same time on Saturday, and their St. Patrick’s Day parade (albeit, 9 days late) on Sunday. Traffic and parking were a nightmare yesterday, and I fully expect today to be no different. Kudos, Manch Vegas! It’s not like you didn’t know the regional was being held there over a year in advance or anything.

  6. I don’t know, I think the Lowell fans should take a night off and come back to talk after they actually win something meaningful on the national stage

  7. UML is now toast. When you manage to win a national championship then maybe you will be more than a footnote in 125 years of collegiate hockey. Six years of moderate success is nice, but just like Quinnipiac you have no real bragging rights until you get it done.

  8. Cornell lost defenseman Brendan Smith to injury in the final game of the regular season. Unfortunate for the Big Red… they were not the same team after that.

    • Except when they shut down Clarkson in Games 2 and 3 and then played their best game of the season against Union before running into two of the top 5 or 6 teams in the nation.

      Smith was a big loss, but so was Bliss, Wedman, etc. This team persevered and likely reached its potential this season given its available parts.

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