AMHERST, Mass. — For the sixth time during the Norm Bazin era, the No. 7 seeded UMass Lowell hockey team is headed to the Hockey East Championship game. The River Hawks will square off against in-state rival Massachusetts on Saturday at 7 p.m. for the title.
This is UMass Lowell’s 33rd appearance in the Hockey East Tournament in 37 years and the eighth time they have played in the Championship Game. After defeating Vermont, 5-3, in the Opening Round, Boston University, 2-1, in the Quarterfinals and Boston College, 6-5, in double overtime in the semifinals the River Hawks are 49-50-3, all-time, in Tournament play. UMass Lowell has played in the tournament championship game in seven times including five in a row between 2013 and 2017.
This is the eighth time that UMass Lowell has participated in the Hockey East Championship Game. Only three teams have appeared in the Final more often. Boston College has made 18 appearances in the title game, Maine 14 and Boston University has made 12 visits. New Hampshire has also appeared eight times in the final game of the Hockey East season. The River Hawks took home the Lamoriello Trophy in 2013, 2014 and 2017.
PICKING THROUGH THE SEEDS
No team has ever won the Hockey East Tournament while facing the number one, two and three seeds. UMass Lowell is looking to be the first. The River Hawks defeated the number one seed, Boston College, 6-5 in double overtime in the semifinals. They also knocked off the number two seed, Boston University, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. They now will face the number three seed, Massachusetts, in the championship game. Sixth seeded Northeastern came close in 2016. They won the title defeating the numbers one, three and four.
UMass Lowell is the number seven seed as determined by the Hockey East Power Index. The River Hawks have been the number seven seed five times before and they are 4-9-0 including Wednesday’s 6-5 OT win against Boston College. This is the first time they have ever advanced to either the semifinal round or the final as a number seven seed. They fell to Maine as the number seven seed in 1990, ’91 and 2006. They lost two-games-one to Boston University in 2008 and were eliminated by Merrimack in 2018 dropping two overtime games.
SCOUTING THE RIVER HAWKS
UMass Lowell enters this tonight’s contest with a 10-8-1 record after defeating Boston College, 6-5 in double overtime, in Wednesday’s Semifinal matchup. The River Hawks are 6-1-1 in their last eight games. The team is 6-3-0 on the road and 4-5-1 at the Tsongas Center. The club earned the seventh seed based on the Hockey East Power Index and made it to the Championship Game with wins against Vermont, Boston University and Boston College. UMass Lowell is fifth in offense averaging 3.11-goals per game. Sophomores Andre Lee and junior Reid Stefanson lead the team in scoring with 16 and 15-points respectively. Matt Brown tops the goal scoring list with eight. Lee has seven while senior captain Charlie Levesque and junior defenseman Chase Blackmun each have six apiece. Stefanson has a team leading ten-assists. Freshman Henry Welsch and transfer junior Owen Savory have shared the goaltending responsibilities. Welsch has earned six wins and has a GAA of 2.67 and a .894 save percentage. He was in nets against BU and BC. Savory started the previous four (3-0-1) and has a 3.35 GAA and an .846 save percentage.
SCOUTING THE MINUTEMEN
Massachusetts is 15-5-4 after ending Northeastern’s season, 4-1, in the quarterfinals and defeating Providence, 5-2, in Wednesday’s semifinal. The Minutemen are ranked sixth in the nation in the USCHO Poll and seventh in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll. The club is 10-2-2 at home and 5-3-2 on the road. UMass earned the third seed in the Hockey East Power Index. Massachusetts is averaging just 3.54 goals per game, second best in the conference, while allowing a league low of 1.88 goals per game. Seventeen different players have scored goals, six have eight or more. Senior forward Carson Gicewicz leads the team with 13 goals. Junior Bobby Trivigno has 20-assists and tops the points chart with 30. Junior goalie Filip Lindberg has started the last nine games and sports a 1.59 GAA and a .937 save percentage.
ALL-TIME SERIES vs. UMASS
This is the third meeting between the two teams this season and the 88th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1968. UMass Lowell leads the series 51-29-7. The River Hawks have won 20 of the last 26 (20-5-1) over the last nine-plus seasons. The River Hawks did not get their first win the series until 1974, a 5-1 win. Twice in the series UMass Lowell has put together nine-game unbeaten streaks, but the Minutemen have won the last three games. The two have met once in the Hockey East Tournament with the Minutemen sweeping that series two-games to none.
PLAYOFFS VERSUS UMASS
UMass Lowell and Massachusetts have met just once before in the post-season. That was in the 2004 Quarterfinals and the third seeded Minutemen swept the series at the Mullins Center, 6-3 and 3-1. The only team that the River Hawks have faced less often in the post-season is UConn. The two have never met.
This is the first time that “Sister Schools” have ever met in the Hockey East Championship Game. Such meetings have happened with greater frequency in other conferences. It has happened twenty times involving Michigan Schools in the CCHA and WCHA. Minnesota colleges have met four times in the WCHA and the NCHC and Ohio schools met once for the CCHA championship.
THE LAST TIME WE MET
Massachusetts swept the two-game regular season series from UMass Lowell, 5-0 and 2-1, as the River Hawks returned from a 25-day break due to COVID-19 protocols. The first night at the Mullins Center Bobby Trivigno scored the first two goals of the game and added an assist as Massachusetts defeated UMass Lowell, 5-0. Filip Lindberg earned the shutout as the River Hawks were held to just 16 shots on goal. The second night, back at the Tsongas Center, Garrett Wait and George Mika scored goals for the Minutemen in the second period and Lucas Condotta got the River Hawks on the board with a third period goal.
SINCE LAST WE MET
Since dropping a pair of weekend games to Massachusetts the River Hawks have gone 7-5-1 and shows a 6-1-1 record in their last eight. The team has averaged 3.25 goals per game while allowing 2.50 during that recent eight-game stretch. The power play has a 20.7% success rate and the penalty killing unit is at 88.9%.
SCORING AGAINST UMASS
Eight different River Hawk have scored goals against Massachusetts, but none have scored more than once. Reid Stefanson leads the team with a goal and four-points. Both Owen Savory and Henry Welsch have played games in nets against UMass, neither has a win. Welsch has a 3.18 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
Nine players on the UMass Lowell roster have scored goals in the post season. Seven of them found the back of the playoff net for the first time this season. Only three have multiple goals. Matt Brown has four and they came in this year’s tournament games. Anthony Baxter sits atop the point scoring list with a three-goals and six-points. Reid Stefanson has two-goals and five-points. Goalie Owen Savory has three post-season games on his resume. Two of them came as a member of the Rensselaer hockey program. He’s got a 3.05 GAA and a .894 save percentage in one Hockey East and two ECAC playoff games. Henry Welsch has two playoff start. He made 16 saves in the 2-1 win at BU and 34 in the win against BC. For 19 players on the River Hawk roster this is their first playoff experience.
BACK ON WEDNESDAY
UMass Lowell earned a spot in the Hockey East Championship Game with a 6-5 double overtime come-from-behind victory against Boston College at the Conte Forum on Wednesday afternoon/evening. The River Hawks trailed 4-1 with less than ten minutes left in regulation. UMass Lowell scored four times in the final 9:25 of regulation with Anthony Baxter’s second goal of the game evening the score at five. Matt Brown got the game winner at the 12:00 mark of the second overtime.
At 92:00 of hockey the double overtime win against Boston College on Wednesday is the second longest game in UMass Lowell hockey history. Matt Brown’s goal stopped the clock at the 12:00 mark of the second overtime period. The only game longer in River Hawk history was the River Hawks’ 2-1 win against Providence in the 2016 semifinals. That game clocked in at 112:27.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
The double overtime 6-5 win against Boston College on Wednesday was the first time since 2013 that UMass Lowell has come back from a three-goal deficit to win a hockey game. That was a 5-4 overtime win against Northeastern on January 26, 2013. In that one the River Hawks trailed 4-1 in the third period before Riley Wetmore’s extra attacker goal in the final minute tied it and Christian Folin’s OT goal won it.
A WIN TODAY
A win would give UMass Lowell its fourth Hockey East Tournament Championship and it’s first since 2017. It would also mean that the River Hawks have earned the League’s auto bid to the NCAA tournament, their sixth visit during the Norm Bazin Era and their ninth as a Division I program.
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