PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The UMass-Lowell River Hawks win their first Hockey East regular season title in school history with Friday night’s win over Providence College, 4-1. Prior to this season, only New Hampshire, Boston College, Boston University and Maine had every clinched the regular season title. The River Hawks win moves them up to a fourth place tie with Boston College in the national Pairwise rankings.
Getting out to an early lead was the game plan for the River Hawks and thats just what they did. Senior Captain, Riley Wetmore tallied a chip shot power play goal, over Jon Gillies, on a pass from Scott Wilson and Derek Arnold, putting UMass-Lowell up, 1-0. Providence and UMass-Lowell had even opportunities to score in the first period, however the River Hawks were able to tally a goal, while Providence wasn’t.
After an uneventful second period, Providence got on the board only 19 seconds into the third. Tim Schaller’s goal even the score at 1-1 and putting the Friars right back into the game. In such a close game, a quick goal for Providence could’ve pushed the momentum in their favor, however at 6:41 in the third period Josh Holmstrom tallied what would be the game-winning-goal. UMass-Lowell was leading 2-1 with under 15 minutes remaining in the regular season. Wilson would add a power play goal roughly four minutes later, pushing the River Hawks lead to 3-1. With 13 seconds remaining, the Friars on the power play and their goaltender pulled, the River Hawks sealed the deal with a Christian Folin empty-netter.
Providence College had 10 power play opportunities during the game and couldn’t capitalize on any of them. “I’ll give credit to [UMass-Lowell's] penalty kill” said Providence head coach Nate Leaman when asked why his power play struggle tonight, “We weren’t ready to go.” The Friars need to be ready to go next weekend when the face off against New Hampshire in the quarterfinals.
“To be the first team other than BC, BU, UNH and Maine to win the regular season title, its an exciting day for our guys, we will let them celebrate for a couple hours before we start thinking about the first round matchup” said UMass-Lowell head coach Norm Bazin. The River Hawks welcome Maine into the Tsongas Center on Thursday for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs, a Maine team that beat the River Hawks, 2-1, in the season series.
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.