Hockey East postseason opens, as Brown scores twice and UMass Lowell survives against Vermont, 5-3; UNH routs rival Maine on the road, 7-2

Four second-period goals broke open the game as seventh-seeded UMass Lowell survived a tough test from 11th-seed Vermont to advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals, 5-3 (Photo: Rich Gagnon)

UMass Lowell scored four times in the second period, including a pair of goals from sophomore Matt Brown as the River Hawks fought of a pesky Vermont team to advance in the Hockey East opening round, 5-3.

Lowell will take on second-seeded Boston University Sunday at 1 pm at Walter Brown Arena.

The River Hawks didn’t have the started they wanted, as Vermont was strong from the opening bell, outshooting Lowell, 11-5, and taking a 1-0 lead on Jacques Bouquot’s goal at 17:29 of the period.

The lead nearly was doubled in the closing seconds but for defenseman Nolan Sawchuk batting a puck out of the air just before it entered the net.

In the second, Sawchuk, a junior looking for his first-career goal, found it when he one-timed a shot from the point off an offensive zone draw at 2:50.

That started an explosive 12 minutes for the River Hawks that changed the complexion of the game.

At 9:13, it was another River Hawks blueliner, Anthony Baxter, who jumped into the offense and fired home a rebound for the 2-1 lead. It was Baxter’s first goal of the season.

From there it was Matt Brown’s time to shine. At 10:54, he made a perfect redirect from the slot on the power play. And less than four minutes later, right after killing a penalty, Brown skated in alone and buried his second of the game.

Vermont hung tight and closed the gap to 4-2 and 5-3, but ultimately the River Hawks were able to clamp down and seal the victory.

“We didn’t start off the way we wanted, but we responded to a little adversity and had a big second period,” said Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “Playoff games never go as smoothly as you want them to. It’s just a matter of trying to play a 60-minute game.”

New Hampshire 7, Maine 2

Four players posted multi-point games for New Hampshire led by Filip Engaras’ goal and two assists as the 10th-seed Wildcats skated past eighth-seed Maine, 7-2.

New Hampshire will take on top seed and national number one Boston College, Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Kelley Rink. The game will be televised on NESN.

UNH jumped to a 2-0 lead on goals by Kalle Erickson and Eric MacAdams. MacAdams goal set off a wild, five goals in 6:51, a record mark for five combined goals in an opening round series.

The clubs twice traded goals giving UNH a 4-2 lead head to the third. And from there, the Wildcats had no relent. Engaras scored unassisted at 1:00 of the third.

Then, after Maine pulled its goaltender early in hopes of a comeback, Luke Reid scored into the empty-net shorthanded.

Lucas Herrmann closed the scoring late.

The game was the first-and-only game that Maine played at home this season. The Black Bears, because of university COVID rules, played their entire regular season on the road.