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LOWELL, Mass. - The third-ranked River Hawk hockey club fell in a difficult 3-1 battle with the Maine Black Bears on Friday night at the Tsongas Arena. UMass Lowell suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, despite solid play from goaltender Nevin Hamilton (Ashland, MA) who made 30 saves in front of a crowd of 4,752.
The River Hawks slide to 8-4-1 overall with the loss and 4-3-1 in Hockey East contests. Maine improved to 5-7-1 with the win and 4-4-1 in conference play.
After a back-and-forth first period that remained scoreless throughout, UMass Lowell jumped on the board 58 seconds in the second. Kory Falite (Billerica, MA) took a shot from the near post that was saved by goaltender Scott Darling (Lemont, Ill.). Ben Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, CO) took a whack at the rebound, but Darling stopped that one too, only to have Falite knock in the second rebound. The score was Falite's sixth of the season and gave the River Hawks a 1-0 advantage.
That would be final time UMass Lowell was heard from offensively as the Black Bears scored twice in the second and once in the third. The first goal came following a turnover by Hamilton in the River Hawk zone. Mark Nemec (Rouses Point, NY) passed to Gustav Nyquist (Malmo, Sweden) who fed it to Tanner House (Cochrane, Alta.). House's shot hit a UMass Lowell defenseman and ricocheted into the net.
Adam Shemansky (Robbinsville, NJ) extended Maine's lead on a redirection with less than 30 seconds to play in the second. On the power play, Spencer Abbott (Hamilton, Ont.) took a shot from the point that Shemansky rerouted past Hamilton for the 2-1 advantage.
The final Black Bear goal came with just under three minutes remaining in the third as House skated down the far side and reeled off a shot that squeaked underneath Hamilton's glove.
Hamilton stopped 30-of-33 Maine shots on net, but suffered his first loss of the season, dropping to 4-1-1. Darling improved to 5-3-1 on the season after making 27 saves. The River Hawks were outshot 33-28 on the night.
UMass Lowell will have some time to iron out the kinks, not playing again until Dec. 4, when the River Hawks travel to New Hampshire for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Wildcats.