LOWELL, Mass. - Senior defenseman Joe Houk and senior forward Derek Arnold (Foxboro, Mass.) each registered two points apiece (1g,1a) to lead the No. 8 ranked UMass Lowell hockey team to a 4-2 victory against Merrimack College on Friday in Hockey East action with a crowd of 5,325 on hand at the Tsongas Center.
With the win the River Hawks improve to 17-7-2 overall (7-4-1 HEA) on the season, while Merrimack falls to 7-14-3 overall and 2-8-2 in league play.
"It's always key when you can have that type of start," said Head Coach Norm Bazin. "The guys didn't change their style of play, they stuck with the game plan. I liked the start and whenever you start like that you give yourself a chance to win."
Arnold beat Merrimack goalie Rasmus Tirronen high glove side with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle to give UMass Lowell a 4-2 lead to cap off the game's scoring. It was the first goal in 10 games for Arnold and it marked his eighth of the season. Greg Amlong tallied his second assist on the night as he chipped the puck off the boards from his own defensive zone. Amlong now has seven assists in his last four games for the River Hawks.
Freshman forward Joe Gambardella (Staten Island, N.Y.) got UMass Lowell back in the lead with 58 seconds left in second frame off a backhander beating Tirronen glove side with assists going to Christian Folin (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Arnold.
Merrimack cut the River Hawks lead to one goal with 6:20 left in the second period on Justin Mansfield's third goal of the season and then Mike Collins made it a 2-2 game just 1:48 seconds later with Mike Collins' ninth goal of the season.
Evan Campbell (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) extended the lead to 2-0 with 8:43 left in the first period, as he scored for the second consecutive game for the River Hawks. Houk opened the scoring at 4:27 of the first period. UMass Lowell outshot the Warriors, 12-5 in the opening frame and 35-25 for the game. UMass Lowell tallied double digit shots in all three periods. The River Hawks had a goal taken away at 15:08 of the first period after a video review determined the puck had been kicked in the net.
Sophomore netminder Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) made his 15th start of the season for the River Hawks, finishing the evening with 23 saves, including 11 stops in the second period. Tirronen stopped 31 shots on the night in the losing effort for Merrimack.
Senior forward Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) had his three-game point streak snapped tonight, but contributed in the faceoff circle, winning 16 of 24 draws. Freshman forward Chris Maniccia (St. Catharines, Ont.) also had a solid night in the faceoff dot, going 10 of 12 on the night.
The River Hawks return to action on Saturday, February 1 for the series finale at Merrimack College. Game time from Lawler Arena in North Andover, Mass is 7pm. The game will be broadcast live nationally on Fox College Sports and locally on WBIN-TV. Steve Degler and Don "Toot" Cahoon have the call of the game from the campus of Merrimack College.