Lowell, MA — Since the calendar flipped to 2019, UMass Lowell has been nearly perfect. A team rolling 12 freshmen into a new unit went on a ten game unbeaten streak from January to mid-February. They looked to continue their winning streak against the Providence College Friars. However, Nate Leaman’s squad entered outside the tournament picture and needing a win to climb the pairwise standings. Knowing that the Friars played inspired hockey and silenced Tsongas.
Lowell started the game well, dictating the pace in the first three minutes of play. They even landed the first goal of the night when Anthony Baxter wristed home a puck. However, the officials called the goal off due to goaltender interference. With the door open, Providence took charge and dominated the remainder of the night. Kasper Bjorkqvist earned the first star with two goals on the night. The first came 4:11 into the game and his second came early in the second. Brandon Duhaime recorded the other Friar tally in the opener.
The second period was especially dominant with Providence out-attempting Lowell 20-9 and outshooting their hosts 11-2. Other than Bjorkqvist’s tally, Michael Callahan and Greg Printz added to the score and buried the Riverhawks 5-0 before the intermission.
Lowell broke the shutout 3:13 into the third when Connor Sodergren scored on a smooth offensive attack and shot, but Tyce Thompson restored the five-goal Friar lead 19 seconds later and ended the scoring at 6-1 in Providence’s favor, ending their own stretch of three straight one-goal offensive efforts.
“It was nice for us to score some goals. We finished on our chances”, observed Nate Leaman. “The way we’ve struggled lately, we know the position we’re in within our league standings. We know how important this series is to us. We know that tomorrow is the most important game of the season is to us. I don’t think it takes the coach to say anything.”
The Friars improve to 17-9-5 and 10-7-2 in the conference. Hayden Hawkey stopped 20 of 21 Riverhawk shots.
Norm Bazin was disappointed after the game.
“I liked our first three minutes,” Bazin said. “That’s about all I liked tonight. Our attention to detail was poor. Our alertness was poor, and I thought our focus was poor. I had a feeling during the week that we were believing a lot of nonsense that was being printed. This might ground you. Because you’re never as good as you think, you’re never as bad as you think.”
Lowell drops to 17-9-2 and 11-5-2 in HEA play. Tyler Wall recorded 28 saves on 34 shots faced.
The teams will rematch tomorrow night at Schneider Arena. Puck drops at 7 pm between Hockey East’s 2nd and 3rd placed teams.