On Saturday night, the UMass Lowell River Hawks (7-17-3, 3-11-3) and the Vermont Catamounts (11-12-3, 5-8-3) concluded their weekend series at Tsongas Center in Lowell, before a crowd of 4,002. The first game played on Friday night saw the Catamounts win in a shootout 1-0 after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie through 65 minutes of hockey. UMass Lowell was trying to stop a winless streak that has now reached six games. The Catamounts have only one win in their last five contests. The starting goalies were the same as Friday night. Gabe Carriere for Vermont and Henry Welsch for UMass Lowell.
At 10:06 of the first period the River Hawks got the game’s first goal on a great individual effort by RW Nick Grandwicz who picked up the puck along the left wing boards and used the wall to fight his way down the wing. He turned the corner at the Vermont net and beat Carriere to the far side. The goal was his third of the year and was assisted by Scout Truman.
UMass Lowell received an early break as Vermont’s RW Massimo Lombardi was sent off for a five-minute major for boarding. The River Hawks took advantage as Owen Cole scored his team-leading 10th of the season from Truman and Jak Vaarwerk at 12:47. Truman made a nice pass from the very high slot inside the Vermont blue line and found Cole at the side of the net on the right side. He made no mistake as he redirected the pass past Carriere for a 2-0 UMass Lowell lead. That goal was the only one scored on that major penalty. The River Hawks took a 2-0 lead to the locker room. They outshot Vermont 11-3.
It would take the Catamounts 5:03 into the second period to make it a one-goal game. Timofei Spitserov scored on a clean breakaway off a pass from Isak Walther and beat Welsch to the five-hole to make it a 2-1 Lowell lead. The goal for Spitserov was his 6th of the season. The Catamounts kept up the pressure as the period continued. Walther had a great chance from the left slot that was stopped by Welsch. Vermont did break through and tie the game on a shot from Jens Richards, his team-leading ninth of the year. The goal came at 17:34 and was assisted by Jack Malinski. An off-balance shot from Richardson fooled Welsch and found the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2. For the second night in a row, the two teams would head to the third period tied up. Shots in the period were seven for UMass Lowell, a two-period total of 18. Vermont had 10, for two periods total of 13.
At 6:46 of the third period, Vermont took their first lead of the night at 3-2. Joel Maatta, who scored both of the Catamounts goals on Friday night, scored his third of the season. He extended his point-scoring streak to nine games and broke the tie with a wrist shot that beat Welsch from the left-wing side. Jack Malinski picked up an assist on the goal, as it was his pass that set up the play.
Things got worse for the River Hawks as Sean Kilcullen was assessed a five-minute major for contact to the head at 7:07 of the third. His night was now over. Vermont, whose PP was 9-for-99 for the season, had a great chance to put the game away. The power play did not put the game away as the River Hawks did a great job of killing it. They had 7:51 left to tie the game. Vermont was doing an excellent job of protecting the one-goal lead.
With 2:51 left, the River Hawks tied the game. Filip Fornaa Svensson put home his fifth of the year at 17:09. Jack Collins was given an assist, as was Brehdan Engum. Svensson was able to find the back of the net from the left side. With that, the period ended and as was the case on Friday night the game would go to Overtime. Shots after regulation were four for Vermont their total was 17, UMass Lowell had 8 for a total of 26.
In overtime both teams had great chances, however, both goalies were up to the task of keeping the puck out of their nets. For the second night in a row, the game would be decided by a shootout. The game ended as a 3-3 tie, both teams were now going for the extra point. Vermont went first, with Maatta scoring as he beat Welsch between the legs. UMass Lowell’s Alex Peterson was stopped by Carriere. After a Vermont miss, Dillian Bentley beat Carriere on the backhand. Both teams miss on their third shots. On the fourth shot, Chris Theodore scored to give Vermont the lead. Nick Grandvvicz had a chance to keep the shootout alive but his shot was wide of the net. Vermont wins the shootout by a 2-1 margin.
After the game, UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin “liked the effort of his team.” He did mention that he thought his squad allowed Vermont to creep back into the game in the second period. Overall, the goal was to play “two 60-65 minute games” and the coach believes that took place. He did say his team needs to get better in the shootout format. The winless streak for UMass Lowell is now at seven games, as they now get ready for a weekend series with Northeastern starting on Friday night at Tsongas Center.
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