Lowell, MA- The visiting Long Island University Sharks let a two-goal lead over the #19 UMass-Lowell River Hawks slip away late in the second period only to add a dramatic finish for a 3-3 tie in front of 2,633 at Tsongas Center Arena. Jack Quinn, a freshman from Lancaster, Ma. netted his first NCAA goal with 1:01 left in regulation to pull the game even at three apiece. It was the first six-on-five goal of LIU’s brief history.
The LIU program, in its second season, has scheduled a murder’s row of Division One opponents, sprinkled in with some top-notch D-III schools. The Sharks have played six games against four D-I schools. All four have been ranked in the top 20. This past weekend they dropped two to then #10 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in Omaha, NE. by a combined score of 13-1.
The River Hawks, meanwhile, are coming off of a two-game sweep of the then #19 Boston University Terriers. 3-0 winners at Agganis Arena on Friday and 2-1 winner at home on Saturday. The River Hawks knew that this could be one of those games. And ultimately it was.
The Sharks capitalized on a bad attempt by the River Hawks to keep the puck in the LIU zone. Sharks defenseman Jake Stevens sent a clearing attempt up the ice that a UML defender whacked at and missed. This sprung forward Marty Westhaver into the neutral zone. Westhaver skated into the River Hawks zone and dished a pass back to a trailing PJ Marrocco who buried his first goal as a member of the LIU program. Marrocco had 21 goals in three seasons with Arizona State. For Stevens, it was his seventh assist of the year and Westhaver’s second.
The Sharks jumped out to a 2-0 lead just forty-six seconds into the second when Spencer Cox beat Henry Welsch (17 saves) for the power-play goal with a shot from just inside the blue line. Billy Jerry and Jordan Timmons assisted.
LIU tempted fate by giving the River Hawks back-to-back power plays during the period. The first, a Tripping call on former River Hawk Derek Osik at 5:05, saw Sharks goalie Kris Carlson turn back three UML shots.
The second power play, a Holding call on LIU forward John Gormley at 8:37, had Ryan Brushett giving UML life when he beat Carlson (25 saves) with a shot from the point at 9:12. The goal was Brushett’s second of the season. Nick Austin and Carl Berglund assisted on the goal. Graduate student Connor Sodergren got the non-credited assist by screening the Sharks Carlson on the shot by Brushett.
Sodergren tied the game for the River Hawks at 15:41 when he banged in a loose puck in front of Carlson. The unassisted goal was his first of the season and the 20th of his UML career.
Once again the Sharks let the penalties get the better of them in the third period. An early Holding call on defenseman Carson Musser was successfully killed off without allowing a shot on goal. But almost five minutes later a Boarding call on Gormley at 5:32 gave the River Hawks the man advantage. This time it would prove costly.
Lucas Condotta banged in a rebound in the crease to give the River Hawks a 3-2 lead. Condotta’s third goal of the season was assisted by Brian Chambers and Jon McDonald at 5:38.
Condotta was hit with a five-minute major for Boarding at 7:11 when he crunched Sharks forward Jordan Timmons into the boards in the UML zone. Timmons would leave the game but did return later. LIU only mustered two shots on goal during the five-minute power-play.
UML Head Coach Norm Bazin thought that this five-minute stretch had proved to be too much of a buzzkill for the River Hawks.
“I thought the five-minute major in the third zapped the energy from our team. That’s part of the game. We did a great job of killing that penalty, that was a positive also but it does zap your energy,” said Bazin.
With just over a minute and a half to go the Sharks pulled Carlson for the extra attacker in the UML zone. The River Hawks had a few chances to clear the zone but were unsuccessful. Graduate student Jerry made a nice play at the River Hawks blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone. He then had a give and go with sophomore defenseman Jordan DiCicco, in which he had to glove down DiCicco’s return pass while shedding a UML defender. Jerry then dished the puck to a trailing Quinn who wristed a shot past Welsch for the game-tying goal at 18:59.
The three-on-three overtime frame had each team fire off some low-quality chances for the win but each goalie was able to hang on to earn their respective teams a point from the draw.
Afterward, the tone of the two coaches couldn’t have been any more opposite. While both were happy to come away with a point, Bazin was more let down than his counterpart Brett Riley.
“I’m thrilled with tonight’s game and the direction we’re going,” said Riley. “To get back from Omaha Sunday night, get up here Tuesday, and then play another nationally ranked program speaks volumes about the character of our group to battle back especially the way we did.”
“I’m thrilled with the direction the program is going despite where the record may be right now,” added Riley of the Sharks 2-5-1 record.
“It’s been a grind for our guys, we’ve had injuries, adversity, a COVID shut down, so to come up here and do what we did, obviously we play to win but I’m thrilled,” said Riley.
“Overall I thought it wasn’t a great effort,” said Bazin. “At the same time, we learned a lesson in urgency, and we still got a point. So I guess we got to be happy about something.”
“Our power-play was good (2-5), a couple looks and a couple of goals. I thought that was a step forward for our team. And I wasn’t displeased with the goaltending. I don’t think he (Welsch) saw either one. So it was one of those situations,” added the River Hawks coach.
“Congratulate the opponent in coming here and getting a point. They had more urgency than we did tonight.”
The Sharks host D-III powerhouse St. Michael’s this weekend while the River Hawks are off until next weekend when they host Northeastern and Boston College.