LOWELL, Mass. – Led by a pair of power-play goals, Massachusetts-Lowell downed Alabama-Huntsville 3-0 Friday afternoon. The River Hawks (7-4-0) got on the board first when Joseph Pendenza found Josh Holmstrom atop the crease for a power-play goal 13:23 into the first period. They added to the lead with another goal on the man advantage in the second, as Matt Ferreira set up a Derek Arnold one-timer from the left circle. Scott Wilson (1g, 1a), who was a healthy scratch last Saturday, tacked on a goal of his own in the third and goalie Doug Carr picked up his second straight shutout. Lowell outshot the Chargers (0-13-1) 49-20 in the game, including 18-2 in the first.
What I saw
-Alabama-Huntsville was undisciplined in the first period. The trouble started when Sebastian Geoffrion was called for boarding at the 7:19 mark. With 22 seconds left on that penalty, Justin Cseter was called for a boarding of his own. The Chargers killed off the 5-on-3, but then when right back to being down two men when Graeme Strukoff received a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind. The River Hawks once again didn’t score on the 5-on-3, but they finally made the Chargers pay when Josh Holmstrom scored with 1:46 to go on the major penalty.
-The River Hawks wound up going for 2-for-7 on the power play, continuing their strong play on the man advantage this season. Lowell entered the game ranked second in Hockey East and 12th in the country with a 23.3-percent conversion rate on the season. Riley Wetmore leads the conference with eight power-play points and ranks second with four power-play goals, while Chad Ruhwedel leads the league with six assists on the man advantage.
What I thought
-Despite outshooting the Chargers 18-2 in the frame, the River Hawks actually looked a little sluggish in the first. They controlled the puck a lot, but they didn’t seem to have a whole lot of urgency with it. They made some careless passes, and a lot of their shots came from the outside without much traffic in front.
-Chargers goalie Clarke Saunders had another very good game. After stopping 37 of 40 shots against Merrimack on Wednesday, he saved 46 of the 49 shots he faced Friday. The quality of Lowell’s chances increased as the game went on, but Saunders remained as unflappable as you could reasonably expect from a goalie who faces that many shots. Based on the two games I saw this week — and the fact that his season save percentage is .915 — Saunders will be the most attractive Charger to other teams who might be looking to UAH’s roster for help next season. Everyone on UAH is seeking an opportunity to continue playing hockey next year, and Saunders should have no problem finding a home on another D-I roster.
What they said
“Matt’s evolved into more than a role player. He’s a catalyst on offense. He’s tremendous defensively. He’s good on draws. He’s making himself a pretty complete hockey player. I’m proud of his effort, and he’s certainly a guy we rely on.” -Lowell coach Norm Bazin on senior Matt Ferreira
Ferreira had just 27 points in his first three seasons combined, but he has emerged as one of the team’s go-to offensive threats this year, as he is now tied for the team lead with 11 points (5g, 6a) after notching an assist Friday.
What else you should know
-This marks the first time the River Hawks have registered back-to-back shutouts since Feb. 8 and 16, 2007, when they blanked Northeastern and Merrimack in consecutive games. Lowell beat Massachusetts 4-0 last Saturday.