DURHAM, N.H — In what was billed as one of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend, New Hampshire outplayed UMass Lowell to the tune of a 5-0 shutout victory. The River Hawks were looking for a rare four-game winning streak against the likes of BU, Maine and UNH but came up short in effort and will be looking for a rebound game against sister school Massachusetts, Saturday night. UNH got a strong effort in net from Matt Di Girolamo who made 31 saves in the shutout effort.
What I saw
- UNH did a great job defensively stifling the top ranked offense in Hockey East. It was another effort which saw forwards and defensemen alike blocking shots. Most of the 31 sent to Di Girolamo were perimeter and points shots that Di Girolamo saw.
- UMass-Lowell played arguably its worst game of the year. Offensively, the River Hawks were flat and just could not get into the middle of the ice to send quality shots toward Di Girolamo. What came in as the best offense in the Hockey East left Durham as the fifth ranked offense in the league after being shutout.
- The River Hawks did have many chances in the game but just could not bury them. In the second period, UML received a 5 minute major power play that was for the most part unsuccessful leaving without a shot for nearly the first three minutes of it. During this power play UNH would commit another penalty to send the River Hawks to a two-man advantage for nearly a minute and a half. This five-on-three power play was negated about a minute later when the River Hawks took a penalty. This was arguably the turning point of the game as Lowell had a huge advantage to get within one goal and possibly to tie it on the power play, but failed to do so on the long advantage and 5 on 3.
What I thought
- New Hampshire had by far its best performance of the season, defensively. Timely goals in both the first and second periods gave them a 2-0 lead eight minutes into the second period. The major penalty on Kipp and subsequent penalty kills on the major and a two-man advantage led to a huge shift in momentum that UNH was able to take advantage of late in the second and early in third periods. Along with improved defense, the penalty kill has been great as of late for New Hampshire. This particular kill was the game changer for UNH.
- UMass-Lowell came out really flat in the game and started freshman goalie Brian Robbins in the game. Even though Robbins played well for Lowell, the River Hawks got nothing going in front of him. In the early going, he kept the River Hawks in the game with some impressive saves but this was not enough for UMass-Lowell.
What they said
“Obviously this was a very good game for us. This is as good as we have played all year. I was very pleased with the other overall team effort and all lines contributed” — UNH coach Dick UMile
“It was a 5-0 game tonight and it should have been 6-0. We didn’t show up tonight. We need to go back and figure out who we are again. We have played really well this year and this was not Lowell Hockey.” — UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin
“We played Brian (Robbins) tonight because I feel we need to develop two goalies in this league to be successful. We haven’t thought of who we will start tomorrow yet. UNH is a good hockey club. I felt we deserved what we got and will need to rebound tomorrow night.” — Bazin
What they didn’t say
One would have to wonder what the difference between this game and other big games that Lowell has won this season. The big difference was the play in front of their two goalies that have started this season. Brian Robbins, tonight’s starter, falls to 1-3-0 on the season receiving only five goals of support in his three losses while Doug Carr is 4-1-0 and has received 22 goals of support in five games. Carr should be in goal Saturday night when UMass travels to Tsongas for the first game between the sister programs.
What else you should know
UMass-Lowell, with a win Friday, would have pulled off four straight victories against the likes of Maine, Boston University and New Hampshire, but were unable to finish the trifecta against New Hampshire. Lowell will need to rebound against UMass on Saturday night. Bazin’s troops have impressed many this season with their offense and goaltending. Friday was quite simply not their night, but Lowell should come out strong at home against the Minutemen.
New Hampshire heads down to Boston University on Saturday night with a seven game unbeaten streak. On Oct. 8, BU defeated UNH, 5-0, and the wildcats will be looking for a much stronger performance on Saturday night. Much is different in Durham since that game. The offense is scoring and the young defensemen have grown up a bit, which should make for an interesting game.