As snow, sleet, and rain fell around SNHU Arena in Manchester, the Riverhawks of UMass Lowell and Big Red of Cornell took to the ice. Cornell was back in the big dance for the first time since 2012 while Lowell is a regular to the tournament. The expectation was an even game the whole way. The gathered crowd only got that for one period before Cornell fell apart.
The Big Red looked for the early punch, peppering Tyler Wall in his net with a slew of good shots and even getting one by him when Eric Freschi netted a puck only 56 seconds into the game. However, the officials took their time to review it and determined that Freschi committed a high stick penalty on the shot.
They waved off the goal and put the faceoff in Lowell’s defensive zone. From there, Lowell proceeded to take control of the game. The first period was mostly even, both teams getting eight shots and very few opportunities coming in the offensive end. Lowell did get the first score when Ryan Dmowski buried a shot from the slot to give Lowell a 1-0 lead.
Cornell attacked the Riverhawks early on in the second period, but could not generate the offense needed to score. Tyler Wall was on his game. But his forwards and defensemen did an incredible job of closing down passing lanes and shooting spaces.
Lowell, meanwhile, got to the puck, moved it well, and put enough pressure on Mitch Gillam to extend their lead. Ryan Lohin got the first goal of the period at the 6:09 mark and CJ Smith put in a shot that made the deficit 3-0 at the second intermission.
Once again, Cornell played aggressively to start the third period. They got a few chances early but failed to put any pucks in, only generating 19 shots for the game. Tyler Wall saved all of them, collecting his first shutout in NCAA Tournament play.
Lowell put the nail in Cornell’s coffin when Patrick McCarron was called for a five-minute major penalty for interference. The Riverhawks took the chance to put it away when Ryan Lohin shot the puck, watched it bounce off both posts, come back to him, then the freshman from Chadds Ford, PA, fired it on the net for a 4-0 lead.
Cornell was disappointed with the outcome of the game but happy to be back in the big dance. The Big Red finish with a 21-9-5 record on the season and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons.
The Big Red will lose eight players to graduation when Ryan Coon, Mitch Gillam, Holden Anderson, Patrick McCarron, Jeff Kubiak, Matt Buckles, Eric Freschi, and Captain Jake Weidner all walk in cap and gown in May.
Lowell was pleased with the win, though Coach Norm Bazin did not like the way the game started for his squad. They got better as the game went along. And Bazin was happy with how they took the physicality that Cornell dished out. Lowell will face the winner of the Notre Dame vs Minnesota matchup.