LOWELL, Mass. – The offensive struggles continued for the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers on Friday afternoon at the Tsongas Center as the UMass-Lowell River Hawks scored a 3-0 victory over the visitors in the second game of UAH’s Thanksgiving Week swing through Hockey East.
“I thought it was a good team defensive effort,” said UML head coach Norm Bazin. “Overall, it was a good effort. It was a tough game to put, considering sometimes these kids read some of the press clippings and reports from previous games…You are always weary as a coach of concern coming into these games.”
UML has won its previous two games in shutout fashion and its last three on home ice at the Tsongas Center, dating back to Nov. 5 against Boston University.
When asked about skating against a struggling team such as UAH with a 0-13-1 record, Bazin said, “There’s plenty of things you say [to keep the players focused], but it’s what they hear that matters. With our guys, they are slowly learning that you have to do the right thing each and every time and I thought we did that tonight to get a win.”
The River Hawks scored the lone goal of the first period as sophomore Joseph Pendenza fed Josh Holmstrom between the circles for his third score of the season at the 13:23 mark on a power-play chance.
His goal snapped a three-game pointless drought and came during a five-minute power play for the River Hawks as Huntsville defender Graeme Strukoff was bounced from the contest after a hitting from behind major penalty.
In the period, the River Hawks held a 24-9 advantage in total chances and out-shot the Chargers by an 18-2 mark.
At 5:09 of the second period, UML doubled its lead to 2-0 on the man-advantage as Matt Ferreira found Derek Arnold in the middle of the right circle for the one-time shot that beat UAH sophomore goaltender Clarke Saunders.
“Matt’s evolved as more than a role player,” said Bazin about Ferriera, a native of Brampton, Ont. “He’s a catalyst on offense, he’s tremendous defensively, he’s good on draws. He is making himself a complete hockey player and I am proud of his effort.”
Despite his team’s winless record at 0-12-1 entering the contest, the Brockville, Ont. Native has had some very strong performances on the season, despite his 0-9-1 mark, including 72 saves in two games at Providence’s Schneider Arena two weekends ago.
He was very sharp all afternoon long for the Chargers, keeping UAH in the game for the duration.
In the second, the Chargers out-chanced the River Hawks by a 26-20 margin, but only nine of their opportunities were considered shots on Saunders’ net.
Freshman Scott Wilson scored his fifth goal of the season at the 9:50 mark of the final period as he cleaned up a rebound and shot it into an open left side of the cage. Defender Chad Ruhwedel fired the initial shot on the doorstep and Saunders was unable to stop the second effort as the score extended to 3-0 for UML.
“I thought he responded well,” said Bazin after Wilson, a Pittsburgh Penguins draft selection, was a healthy scratch last weekend. “Obviously, when you come back with an offensive effort to help your team win, it is a big deal. Every one of the young guys is going to go through peaks and valleys, so it is how they respond that counts.”
Sophomore Doug Carr was rarely tested between the posts for the River Hawks as he was needed to make just 20 saves in the contest for his second-straight shutout. The Hanover, Mass. native made 16 stops in last Saturday’s 4-0 triumph over UMass in what was his first-career blanking and the program’s first since Feb. 2010.
Carr and the UML defense has not shutout its opponent in consecutive games since Feb. 8 and 16, 2007 when the River Hawks downed Northeastern and Merrimack in a pair of games at the Tsongas Arena.
“I am happy for Doug,” said Bazin. “They were two team shutouts, however he still has to be there when we need him. Overall, I’m proud of his efforts. He seems to be finding some level of consistency and it is important for us.”
In the contest, UML held a 49-20 shots advantage overall and a 64-51 edge in total attempts.
The Chargers will close their three-in-five stretch on Saturday night when they travel to New Hampshire for a 7 p.m. start at the Whittemore Center. UNH makes the trek to Lowell next Friday for a date with the River Hawks.