LOWELL, Mass. - Sophomore Matt Brown (Wood Ridge, N.J.) tallied two goals to lead the No. 7 seeded UMass Lowell hockey team (8-8-1) to a 5-3 victory against No. 10 Vermont (1-10-2) in the first round of the 2021 Hockey East Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
The difference in the contest proved to be the second period, as the River Hawks scored four unanswered goals in the first 15 minutes to take the lead for good. With the win, the River Hawks advance to take on No. 2 Boston University on Sunday, March 14 at 1 p.m. on NESN+.
"We're certainly excited to be moving on in the Hockey East Tournament," said Head Coach Norm Bazin. "I'd like to congratulate Vermont on coming here and playing a great game. They've got a good coaching staff and better days ahead. From our standpoint, we didn't start off the way we wanted as far as the game went, but we responded to a little adversity and were able to have a big second period, and that seemed to make the difference in the game overall."
As a team, UMass Lowell outshot Vermont, 31-23. Senior Charlie Levesque (Russell, Ontario) also logged two points in the contest with a pair of helpers. Junior Nolan Sawchuk (Burnsville, Minn.) scored his first career goal in the win and senior Anthony Baxter (Oakville, Ontario) added his first of the season, while junior Seth Barton rounded out the goal scorers.
Junior Owen Savory (Cambridge, Ontario) made 20 stops to earn the playoff win in net. On the opposite end of the ice, UVM's Gabe Carriere closed his season with 26 saves in the loss.
While the River Hawks registered the first two shots on target, UVM turned up the pressure midway through the first, firing six consecutive attempts on goal, and although Savory turned aside those chances, the Catamounts pulled in front, 1-0, at 17:29 on a score by Jacques Bouquot.
The River Hawks did not waste any time getting to work in the second, taking advantage of a well-executed faceoff in their offensive zone less than three minutes in, as the puck found its way to Sawchuk for the wide-open slap shot from the blue line to knot the game. Baxter would then slot in a rebound from the post just over five minute later to put his squad in front, 2-1.
Brown followed with a pair of goals in a four-minute stretch, helping his team pull away. On the first, Levesque sent the puck into traffic in front of the net and Brown came away with the tip on target. The winger then chased down a puck on the breakaway and beat the UVM goalie with a backhand from close range. However, the Catamounts were able to slip one in during the final seconds of the period to head into the locker room down only two.
The teams traded goals less than 30 seconds apart early in the third to wrap up the scoring, but the River Hawks held off the visitors for the remainder of the outing to secure the 5-3 outcome.