ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The UMass Lowell River Hawks' (3-3-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) handed the #4 ranked University of Michigan (4-1-1, 0-0-0 Big 10) their first loss of the season with a hard-fought, high-caliber 2-1 win. Sophomore goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) held the potent Wolverine offense at bay with 38 saves to lead UMass Lowell to its second win in as many nights.
"More important than the wins is how we competed," said Head Coach Norm Bazin. "We came back to playing Lowell style hockey."
Ryan McGrath (O'Fallon, Mo.) got the River Hawks on the board first, tipping home a pass from Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) at the right post. The power play tally came at 1:03 of the second period. UMass Lowell's lead was short-lived, however, as Michigan scored a quirky goal just 24 seconds later. After Michael Kapla's attempted pass bounced off the back of the net and careened to the front of the net, Michigan's Evan Allen jumped on the surprise opportunity to even the score at 1-1.
The two teams each had ample opportunities in the second period with 33 shots between the two in the stanza as Hellebuyck and Michigan goaltender Zach Nagelvoort kept their respective teams in the game. A lapse in discipline by Michigan opened the door for the River Hawks as forward Phil Di Giuseppe was whistled off at 7:35 of the third after burying Pendenza from behind in his own offensive zone. Di Giuseppe earned himself a trip to the locker room with a 5-minute major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct, sending UMass Lowell onto a 5-minute power play.
After failing to score in the first four minutes of the power play, River Hawks Head Coach Norm Bazin called for a time out to give his squad time to regroup. Less than 30 seconds later, Michigan native Adam Chapie (Oxford, Mich.) quieted the hometown crowd with his power play goal at 11:58 of the third. After working the puck around to the left wing side, Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) passed the puck to Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, Colo.) With no shot available, the captain passed it back to Chapie who roofed it over Nagelvoort's right shoulder.
"(The puck) just happened to pop on my stick," Chapie said of the goal. "I didn't get all of it, but if you get it on net, good things happen."
Despite two good short-handed bids for the Wolverines, Hellebuyck and the River Hawks closed the door on any Michigan attempted comeback, taking home the win, 2-1. Michigan natives Hellebuyck and Chapie were named the game's #1 and #2 stars, respectively, as the winning goaltender and goal scorer.
"Hellebuyck was really tested tonight," Bazin said of his sophomore netminder. "He was a rock back there."
Michigan will face Michigan Tech in a two-game set next weekend while UMass Lowell will face New Hampshire in a home-and-home series next Friday and Saturday. The River Hawks will host the Hockey East rival Wildcats Friday at 7:15 PM before traveling to Durham, NH for a Saturday matchup at 7 PM. River Hawks fans can watch Saturday's game on WBIN-TV and can listen to all River Hawks hockey games on the ESPN River Hawk Radio Network: ESPN 900 (flagship station), ESPN 1250 AM, WSMN 1590 AM, WCAP 980 AM, www.espnnh.com and the ESPN Radio smartphone app.