NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — UMass-Lowell moves into sole position of first place in the Hockey East standings and clinches home ice advantage during the first round of the playoffs with Sunday night’s, win over Merrimack College, 3-1. This is the latest in the season, the River Hawks have sat alone in first in the Hockey East standings. The River Hawks win the season series against Merrimack, 2-1-0 and move up to a tie for fourth place in the national Pairwise rankings with New Hampshire and Boston College.
Josh Holmstrom would net the games first two goals for the River Hawks at 6:58 and 11:20 in the first period, putting the River Hawks up, 2-0. Holmstrom’s second goal was the first power play goal the Warriors have surrendered in 2013 at home, prior to the start of the game, the team was 28-for-28 at home in 2013. Holmstrom would tally seven of the teams 14 shots in the first period.
The River Hawks would push the lead to 3-0 on Greg Amlong’s first career Hockey East goal. Amlong and Pendenza skated 2-on-1 against Merrimack’s defense, when Pendenza fed a pass across and Amlong who tipped it in. Pendenza would end the game with two assists and extend his point streak to eight games. Pendenza has tallied two points in four out of the last five games and tallied points in 14 out of the last 16 games. UMass-Lowell was dominating the game and outshooting Merrimack, 24-13 heading into the third period.
Although, Merrimack forward, Shawn Bates tallied a goal 22 seconds into the third period, coming into the Sunday night’s game, UMass-Lowell was 14-0-1 when leading after two periods. Bates’ goal took away Connor Hellebuyck’s fifth career shutout, however he still managed to come away with a UMass-Lowell Division I era record 13th straight win. Following the game, Hellebuyck improved his season statistics to a 1.41 GAA and .947 save %. The third period was a ‘sketchy’ period, however the River Hawks manage to come out on top.
Merrimack’s came away with the teams fourth straight loss and sits in sixth in the Hockey East standings. In the final weekend of the year, Merrimack plays a home-and-home series against Massachusetts, while UMass-Lowell does the same against Providence College.