LOWELL, Mass. - The first two games between these two schools saw a total of 19 goals. Saturday night they pushed it to 24 with UMass-Lowell’s 3-2 victory over in-state rival Massachusetts. Connor Hellebuyck got the nod for UMass-Lowell, while Steve Mastalerz was between the pipes for Massachusetts.
“He’s been off for so long I wanted to see if he could manage back-to-back starts” said UMass-Lowell head coach Norm Bazin on Hellebuyck getting the start over Doug Carr. “We feel like we’ve got two competent goalies, who knows what the future will bring as far as who will play next.”
After an uneventful first period, freshman defensemen Christian Folin tallied the game’s first goal at 6:23 in the second period while UMass-Lowell was shorthanded. Joseph Pendenza and Shayne Thompson both had helpers on Folin’s third goal on the season.
Starting with Riley Wetmore’s power play goal at 10:06 in the second period that put UMass-Lowell up 2-0, the game saw three goals in just over a minute of play. Branden Gracel tallied the Minutemen’s first goal at 10:44, while Derek Arnold put the River Hawks up 3-1 at 11:10. Less than two minutes later Conor Sheary scored the game’s final goal, sending UMass-Lowell home with the victory, 3-2.
Wetmore’s second period goal was the game’s only power-play goal. The River Hawks went 1-for-6, while Massachusetts went 0-for-2. The Minutemen couldn’t capitalize on special teams, giving up a power play goal and a shorthanded goal in the second period.
With Saturday night’s win, UMass-Lowell moves to 7-0-0 in the last seven games when leading entering the third period. On the other side, Massachusetts moved to 0-8-1 when trailing after two. The River Hawks still sit in sixth place, just two points behind fourth-place Boston University. UMass-Lowell will play a home-and-home series against BU next weekend, beginning with a Friday night tilt in Boston. The last time these two teams met, the River Hawks beat Boston University, 4-3.
Massachusetts sits only one point away from dropping out of the final playoff spot, right above Maine. The Minutemen will be fighting to stay in contention as they play two against Maine in Amherst. Maine and Massachusetts skated to a 2-2 tie back in November, even more reason why this coming weekend will be a big series for both teams.