LOWELL, Mass. — For the second year in a row, the UMass Lowell River Hawks open the Hockey East quarterfinals at home, on a Thursday night. Last year, the River Hawks fell to the Providence Friars in the series opener. Things were different this year, as UMass Lowell beat Maine, 4-2, taking game one of the series.
Coming into Thursday night’s tilt, Maine has gone 14-1 against the River Hawks in postseason play. The Black Bears were looking to make it 15-1, and got the scoring started in the first period. Devin Shore fed Jake Rutt at 13:52 and Rutt put it past Connor Hellebuyck, giving the Black Bears the lead, 1-0. UMass Lowell was given more chances to score and took more shots, but were unable to get anything past Martin Ouellette.
UMass Lowell didn’t want to enter the third period trailing and have to fight back to win. Scott Wilson made sure that wouldn’t happen. The UMass Lowell forward tallied a pass from Derek Arnold and Chad Ruhwedel to even the score, 1-1. Once again the River Hawks were the more offensive team, but only were able to even the score in the second period.
The River Hawks lead all Hockey Hockey teams in third period goals this season and improved on the lead, Thursday night. Entering the third period, Maine was 3-6-1 on the season, when tied and Lowell wanted to take advantage of their inability to keep the lead.
Wilson netted his second goal of the game, 1:52 into the third period, giving UMass Lowell the lead, 2-1. Only 21 seconds later, Joseph Pendenza tallied, what would become the game-winning-goal, and gave the River Hawks a 3-1 lead with 17:47 remaining in regulation. Chad Ruhwedel fired a shot on net from point, on a Riley Wetmore pass. However, Josh Holmstrom tipped the puck in front of the net and changing the angle enough to put it past Ouellette. With 48 seconds remaining in the third and Maine’s goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, Devin Shore netted a power play goal moving the Black Bears within two goals. However, there just wasn’t enough time on the clock and in the end, UMass Lowell came out on top, 4-2.
Maine came out strong in the first period, but UMass Lowell just took what they did incorrectly in the first and made changes. The improvements are what saved the game for the River Hawks.
The River Hawks take the lead in the series, 1-0 and will welcome the Black Bears back into the Tsongas Center Friday night. A win for UMass Lowell and they make a trip the TD Garden for the first time since 2009. Maine could even the series up with a win and force a final game on Sunday.
Justin Soderberg is a Hockey East writer for InsideHockey.com. Follow him on Twitter, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. In addition, Justin covers the UMass-Lowell River Hawks at viewfrom123.com.