No. 1-seeded UMass Lowell broke a 1-1 deadlock with three goals in a span of 4:53 over the late second and early third periods as it defeated No. 8 Maine, 4-2, Thursday night in the Hockey East Tournament quarterfinal in front of 3,070 at the Tsongas Center.
With the win, UMass Lowell improved to 23-10-2 overall and meets the Black Bears again Friday night (7:00) in the best-of-three series at the Tsongas Center.
Maine, which owned a 14-1 postseason record over UMass Lowell entering the game, slipped to 11-18-8.
Sophomore F Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) scored two goals in the flurry while junior D Chad Ruhwedel (San Diego, Calif.) dished out two assists. Freshman G Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) stopped 24 shots and improved to 15-2-0, earning his 14th win in his last 15 appearances.
Junior G Martin Ouellette had 32 saves for Maine.
UMass Lowell trailed 0-1 until 17:20 into the second period when Wilson took advantage on a power play and wristed through a crowd from the right circle to even matters.
UMass Lowell took advantage of loose rebounds for its next two goals. Wilson got his second 1:52 into the third period when Ouellette saved a backhand from freshman D Christian Folin (Gothenburg, Sweden), but Wilson was there for the put-back.
Just 25 seconds later, freshman F A.J. White (Dearborn, Mich.) forced a turnover in the Maine zone and was snuffed by Ouellette on the left side. Pendenza picked up the rebound and fired home from the right of the slot.
The River Hawks added a fourth on a power play at 6:29 when junior F Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Spring, Colo.) redirected Ruhwedel's slapshot from the point.
Maine pulled one back on a 6-on-4 situation at 19:12 when freshman F went coast-to-coast, broke through a pair of defenders and backhanded past Hellebuyck.
Maine opened the scoring 13:52 into the game when sophomore D Jake Rutt fired from the left point which hit the post and deflected in off Hellebuyck.
UMass Lowell outshot the Black Bears, 36-26.