Senior David Vallorani (Hamilton, Ont.) scored at 13:01 into overtime to capture the Toyota UConn Holiday Classic Championship over Connecticut, 4-3, on Friday night in Storrs, CT. The River Hawks became the first Hockey East team to ever win the 19th annual holiday tournament.
UMass Lowell improves to 12-5-0 on the year, winning its first in-season tournament since the Florida College Classic in 2007-08. The Huskies dropped to 6-10-2 on the season with the loss.
In a physical opening period, UMass Lowell broke the scoreless tie at 14:37 into play. Sophomore Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took a hard hit along the far boards, but got the puck to freshman Stephen Buco (North Providence, R.I.). Buco set up classmate Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) at the net front and the Pittsburgh Penguins' draft pick jammed home the goal. The tally was the rookie's eighth of the season.
The first goal broke down the defense as the River Hawks potted another before the period's end. Freshman defenseman William Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass.) smacked the puck from the blue line, landing wide of the net and sending the puck around the back of the cage to senior Vallorani for the score. The tally put UMass Lowell on top 2-0 and was Vallorani's seventh of the season and second of the tournament.
The River Hawks bolstered the lead to 3-0 with 5:49 remaining in the second period on a wrap-around from Terrence Wallin (Yardley, Penn.). Wallin's fifth goal of the season came from Matt Ferreira (Brampton, Ont.) and Wilson.
The Huskies roared back with three unanswered goals, starting at 18:26 into the second and ending at 1:58 into the third. Billy Latta (West Chester, Penn.) started the frenzy, netting a power play goal to make it 3-1.
Connecticut then opened the third period with two goals just 11 seconds apart. Cody Sharib (Needham, Mass.) scored at 1:47, followed by a power play goal that floated in off the stick of Latta at 1:58.
The clubs clawed their way back-and-forth across the ice, but neither team to muster another tally before the end of regulation.
After being shut out on a pair of power plays in the overtime period, the River Hawks netted the game-winning goal at 13:01. Riley Wetmore (Swanton, Vt.) batted a puck out of the air to Vallorani, who dished off to Derek Arnold (Foxboro, Mass.). The second-year winger raced up ice, hit the goaltender with a shot and Vallorani cleaned up the rebound on the weak-side for the win.
Sophomore goaltender Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) was up to the task between the pipes, turning away 26-of-29 shots over 73:01 minutes of play. Carr improved to 11-2-0 on the season with the victory. Connecticut's Garrett Bartus (St. Charles, Ill.) totaled 39 saves in the hard fought loss.
Four River Hawks were named to the Toyota UConn Classic All-Tournament Team: Carr, Chad Ruhwedel (San Diego, Calif.), Vallorani and Wilson. Vallorani was also named the Tournament MVP for scoring three goals and two assists over the two days.
With the win in the books, UMass Lowell turns its attention to Thursday's upcoming exhibition contest with the Russian Red Stars at 7 p.m. in the Tsongas Center.