LOWELL – The UMass Lowell River Hawks started off their weekend home-and-home series against Merrimack College with a big win on Friday at the Tsongas Center, 4-2, with big help from an unlikely source.
Senior defenseman Joe Houk got the momentum started in the River Hawks favor early in the first period. Houk found the back of the net at 4:27 in the first period as the River Hawks first goal of the game.
“I try to keep it simple every game,” said Houk. “I just through [the puck] to the net and luckily it went in. I thank my teammate who set the screen.”
The 23-year-old added his second point of the game on the River Hawks second goal of the game by Evan Campbell, only 6:50 later.
“It’s always key when you can have that type of start,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin. “The guys didn’t change their style of play, they stuck with the game plan. I liked the start and whenever you start like that you give yourself a chance to win.”
With the River Hawks defensive core down two of their top defenders in Zack Kamrass and Jake Suter, other defensemen have had to step up and Houk did just that on Friday night.
Although Merrimack College was able to fight back and knot the game at 2-2 in the second period on goals by Justin Mansfield and Mike Collins, UMass Lowell added two goals late in the game.
Joseph Gambardella netted the game-winning goal with under a minute left in the second and Derek Arnold padded the lead in the third period. Arnold also added an assist on Friday night and picked up the slack left by the injured Ryan McGrath and Scott Wilson.
UMass Lowell and Merrimack College will do battle on Saturday night at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Mass. in the second half of their home-and-home series. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. eastern.
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