Lowell, MA – The shot total and the low word count of this story doesn’t do justice to the game between the Northeastern Huskies and the UMass-Lowell River Hawks. The River Hawks picked up the extra point in overtime when sophomore defenseman Ben Meehan banged in a Zach Kaiser pass from below the goal line at 1:26, giving the hosts a 2-1 come from behind win. The two teams had skated to a hard-fought 1-1 tie after sixty minutes of regulation in front of 4,986 at Tsongas Arena on Friday night. Just before the game-winning goal, Huskies leading scorer Aidan McDonough had his stick break on a breakaway chance at the other end of the ice.
It was an up and down kind of night from the beginning, and no player typified that roller coaster more than UMass-Lowell senior captain Lucas Condotta. The 6′-2″ center had his name all over the scoresheet. First, it was an early penalty, and then he was the beneficiary of a penalty shot that he missed, only to tie the game at 1-1 late in the third period.
Condotta kicked off the game’s special teams portion of the evening with a Boarding penalty at 1:50. The Huskies could not get a shot on goal throughout the two minutes that Condotta was in the penalty box.
The Huskies Jeremie Bucheler returned the favor at 8:05 with a High-Sticking penalty. This time the Huskies penalty kill was up to the task and kept the River Hawks from putting a puck on goal.
UML had a solid stretch in the NU zone, but sophomore goalie Devon Levi (23 saves) was a wall in his crease. At the other end, Owen Savory stonewalled the Huskies on a two-on-one bid by Justin Hryckowian and Matt Choupani.
The River Hawks carried the play throughout the first and finished with the 8-6 shots on goal advantage.
Northeastern forward Ty Jackson was injured early on a hit along the end boards by UML defenseman Brehdan Engum. The referees looked at the collision after the fact, but there would be no penalty on the play.
Savory (16 saves) again thwarted a Huskies’ two-on-one bid, with Choupani keeping the puck for a shot on goal.
Junior River Hawks defenseman Marek Korencik gave the Huskies another chance on the man advantage with a Holding penalty at 13:09.
A few seconds into the Huskies’ power play, Condotta picked off a pass at the blue line and raced in on Levi, but he was taken down from behind by Huskies defenseman Jordan Harris. The play by Harris earned a penalty shot for Condotta.
Levi easily turned away Condotta’s snapshot from in close.
The Huskies took the lead at 13:49 when Hryckowian banged in a loose puck in front of the River Hawks net. The goal was reviewed but was ultimately called a good goal. Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and McDonough assisted on Hryckowian’s third of the year.
The River Hawks had a couple of decent opportunities to tie the game in the third, but Levi turned them back until a Too Many Men on the Ice call went against the Huskies at 14:02. It only took seven seconds for the River Hawks and Condotta to even the score.
Condotta won the face-off back to defenseman Jon MacDonald who slid a pass along the blue line to Meehan for a one-timer that Condotta had tipped bast Levi for his fourth goal at 14:09.
In the final minute, Harris had a clean look at a rebound in front of the River Hawks net, but his shot rocketed over the net shortly before the clock wound down to zero seconds.
“I thought our guys played their butts off tonight,” said NU coach Jerry Keefe. “We’re down some bodies and had a couple of guys get hurt during the game. I thought the guys that played tonight played hard. We got a call that didn’t go our way (the Too Many Men call) but holding the lead was, but whatever. Credit to them (Lowell) they score on that power play.”
“We have a breakaway in overtime, and we break our stick,” added Keefe. “It is what it is. We have to learn from it and move on.”
“Overall, I am very pleased,” said UML coach Norm Bazin. “I thought we started a little sluggish. Maybe it was the nine days off, but we got a little better as the game went along and were able to capitalize on the power play. The three-on-three I thought was good on all four units. We created some tempo, had some puck possession, and I was happy with that element.”
“I thought both teams defended very well. They (NU) blocked a lot of shots as well,” added Bazin. “They are a good team. You are playing good teams in Hockey East, and it’s a battle. I don’t think the shot totals were reflective of an overall offensive zone play.” The Huskies had 18 blocked shots throughout the game.
The Huskies (8-4) are off until next weekend when they have a home and home with Boston University. The River Hawks will host Boston College on Saturday at 6:05 pm.