On Saturday night, the UMass Lowell River Hawks (5-6-1) hosted the Merrimack College Warriors (4-6-1) in the back end of a home-home series. On Wednesday night, the Warriors came away with a shootout win over the River Hawks. For league purposes, the game is written into the record books as a 1-1 tie. With that said, Lowell came into Saturday night’s game winless in their last five games. The Warriors had won twice in their last five games. An important game for both teams.
The starting goalies were Hugo Ollas for Merrimack and for the River Hawks, it was Henry Welsch. The River Hawks came away with the best two chances five minutes in. Owen Cole, off a turnover in the neutral zone, put two shots on net that were stopped by Ollas. The first penalty of the game went to Merrimack as Max Wattvill went off for tripping at 15:26. The River Hawks Power play has been a problem so far this season connecting at a .128%. The power play had plenty of time in the Warriors zone but did very little with it. In the final minute, the Warriors scored the game’s first goal. Off an offensive zone faceoff, Alex Jefferies scored his sixth of the season at 19:15 of the period. A faceoff win by Matt Coppomi set up the goal. Filip Forsmark also assisted on the goal. The Warriors are 2-0-0 when leading after one period. Shots in the period were 7-6 in favor of Merrimack.
The second period got underway with both teams playing 5-on-5 hockey. Lowell tied the game at 1-1 on a goal from Scout Truman his third of the season. He took a pass out of the left corner from Matt Crasa and buried a wrist shot past Ollas. The time of the goal was 4:26. The River Hawks also started to pick up the physical part of the game as well with several big hits in the first eight minutes of the period. Four-on-four hockey took place at 8:53 as Mac Welsher for Merrimack and Mark Cooper were sent off. The teams would return to even-strength hockey with the game still tied. Head Coach Norm Bazin shook up his lines as the period went along. It seemed to pay off as Dillan Bentley centered a line with Crasa and Nick Rheaume that had good zone time in the Warriors’ end. After a video review that was asked for by Bazin, the River Hawks received a five-minute power play as Mark Gallant for face masking. It got a game misconduct as well at 14:46. A big chance for UMass Lowell’s power play. The man-advantage did not generate enough offense inside the Warriors zone. The second period would end tied at 1-1. Shots through two periods were 17-10 Lowell.
The third period began the way the second did, even strength hockey. It did not take long for the River Hawks to get their first lead of the night. Nick Rheaume gave the River Hawks a 2-1 lead 45 seconds in. The goal came off a turnover by the Warriors in their own end. Rheaume picked up the loose puck and put it past Ollas. The goal was his fourth of the year. Right after the goal, UMass Lowell was short-handed as Shawn O’Donnell went off for slashing at 1:16. They would kill off the penalty. Halfway through the third, Lowell still had the one-goal lead. Could they make it stand? The answer was no. A deflected shot by Mark Hillier, his second of the year, tied the game at 2-2. The goal came at 10:17 and came off a shot by defenseman Liam Dennison. Ty Daneault also assisted on the goal. Merrimack’s power play had a chance to get the lead back as Sean Kilcullen went off at 10:36. The River Hawks took care of it, and with a little over six minutes left, both teams were looking for that tie-breaking goal. The line of Cole, Crasa, and Truman buzz around the Merrimack cage getting three shots on net that were all turned aside by Ollas. The period would end in a tie, and for the second straight game, overtime was needed to possibly decide the game.
UMass Lowell would get a power play chance in the extra session. Off a 2-on-1, Brar was called for tripping Kilcullen at 1:12. The River Hawks power play, which had done very little, had a chance to redeem themselves. A shot by Truman that was stopped by Ollas came back out to Rheaume who blasted a shot into the net for an overtime power-play goal at 1:47. The goal was Rheaume’s second of the night and his fifth of the year. Truman and Isac Jonsson picked up assists The River Hawks snapped a five-game winless streak with a 3-2 overtime win.
After the game, Merrimack head coach Scott Borek mentioned that defenseman Zach Bookman could be out a while after taking a shot off his ankle in the second period. It could be a problem for the Warriors as Bookman is also their quarterback on the power play. Borek liked what he got from his goaltender Hugo Ollas. He thought he kept his team in the game and gave them a chance. Bazin thought his team “was better as the game went along,” also liked the physical play his group showed. He was very happy his power play came through with what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Next week, the River Hawks will host the Turkey Leg Classic along with Merrimack. UMass Lowell will play Bentley on Friday, then Army on Saturday.
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