AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass hockey team battled back to close its deficit to one on three occasions, but three first period goals by #14/15 UMass Lowell proved too much for the Minutemen to overcome as the squad dropped a 6-3 decision to the River Hawks on Friday night at the Mullins Center. With the setback, UMass falls to 10-14-2 overall, 7-11-1 in Hockey East play, while UMass Lowell improves to 15-9-2 overall and 9-8-2 in the conference.
All three of the Minutemen's tallies on the evening came on special teams. Junior Michael Pereira logged his second shorthanded goal of the season, UMass' seventh of the year. Classmates Conor Sheary and Joel Hanley added power play goals, the Minutemen's sixth game of the year with multiple tallies on the man advantage. Hanley added an assist, as well, for his fourth multi-point game of the season. Senior Darren Rowe also logged a pair of helpers for UMass.
UMass Lowell struck early as Scott Wilson redirected a shot by Michael Fallon past netminder Kevin Boyle at the 1:20 mark of the first period. Christian Follin also earned an assist on the play.
The River Hawks then made it 2-0, 14:22 into the stanza. Joseph Pendenza's shot off a feed from Folin and A.J. White trickled past Boyle.
On its first penalty kill of the night, UMass halved its deficit. Shortly after Sheary was stopped on a breakaway, Pereira forced a turnover behind the goal and put a wraparound into an open net at 16:54.
However, UMass Lowell regained the two-goal advantage in the final minute of the stanza. After Riley Wetmore won the puck in the neutral zone, Joe Houk set up Derek Arnold on a two-on-one.
The Minutemen climbed back to within one courtesy of another special teams goal midway through the second. Passing the puck along the top of the umbrella on the power play, Hanley and Rowe set up Sheary's shot from the perimeter that brought the score to 3-2, 9:38 into the period. With another late goal, though, the River Hawks, once more led by a pair at the second intermission. A cross-ice pass by Houk set up a breakaway for Arnold who tucked the puck in on his backhand for his second of the night at 18:06.
Hanley brought UMass back within striking distance once more with his power-play goal at the 7:10 mark of the third period. Off a feed from Rowe and junior Branden Gracel, Hanley drove a slapper through traffic from the top of the slot.
Goals by Wetmore and Josh Holmstrom at 15:04 and 18:11 into the third helped seal the win for UMass Lowell. Holmstrom's came on the power play to snap a streak of 15 successful kills by the Minutemen.
UMass out-shot the River Hawks, 29-19 on the evening, while UMass Lowell won 32 of 58 faceoffs. The Minutemen were 2-for-6 on the power play in the contest and the River Hawks went 1-for-2. Boyle totaled 13 saves for UMass and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 shots in net for UMass Lowell.
The teams will close out the season series tomorrow night in Lowell, Mass., at 7 p.m. in Tsongas Arena.