LOWELL, Mass. – Massachusetts-Lowell picked up its fifth straight win and eighth in its last nine games, beating Boston College 3-2 on Friday night. The River Hawks (10-4-0, 7-3-0 HE) opened the scoring 4:57 into the game on a great individual effort by David Vallorani. The senior winger took a pass from Chad Ruhwedel and split two BC defenders before roofing a shot over Brian Billett’s (24 saves) glove. Derek Arnold upped the lead to two with a power-play goal seven minutes later. The Eagles (12-6-0, 9-4-0 HE) cut the lead in half early in the second with a power-play goal from Barry Almeida, but Lowell regained the two-goal lead midway through the third when Joseph Pendenza beat Billett on a breakaway.
What I saw
-Doug Carr continued his outstanding season in the Lowell net. The sophomore netminder stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced and is now 9-1-0 on the season with a league-leading .934 save percentage and 1.80 goals against average. He has yet to allow more than three goals in a game this year, and has given up just seven total in his last five games. Obviously a lot of credit goes to the strong defense in front of him, but he’s been great no matter how much credit you give the rest of the team. He moves well, stays square to shots and doesn’t give up big rebounds. As he put it after the game, Carr is at his best when everything looks easy.
– Lowell’s Terrence Wallin was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct 3:48 into the game for contact to the head after landing a hard hit on Bill Arnold. Not only did the River Hawks kill the penalty, but Derek Arnold drew a hooking call on Paul Carey less than a minute into the power play, and Vallorani wound up scoring during the ensuing 4-on-4.
What I thought
-The score (2-0 Lowell) was more indicative of the first-period play than the shots (10-9 Lowell). The River Hawks dominated in terms of puck possession, as they were able to pin BC in its own end for long stretches at a time. Most of the Eagles’ shots came on one-and-done chances, as they were rarely able to set up any sort of cycle. BC coach Jerry York said after the game that the River Hawks “dominated the first period and really jumped out on us.”
-The River Hawks did a great job blocking shots, especially on the penalty kill. They blocked 20 total in the game, including 10 in the second period alone. Everyone on the team knows where he should be and avoids overcommitting to anything. The River Hawks don’t put a ton of pressure on the points, but they do a nice job collapsing in front of Carr and making it difficult to get anything through from the perimeter. That also makes it tougher for the offense to collect rebounds, leading to a lot of those one-and-done possessions mentioned above. Carr said after the game that blocking shots on the PK in the first period “was huge momentum for our team.”
What they said
“I really just think it’s our puck possession game and how tenacious we are. We wear down teams. We’re a good skating team and we’re just really hard to play against. All five guys in front of me just work so hard to keep the puck out of our zone. And once we get it, we don’t give it up. Our defense has been creating a lot of offense, and our tenacity’s been winning us games.” -Doug Carr on what’s made Lowell so successful this season
“I feel confident pretty much every game, just because I know the team in front of me is gonna be so prepared and gonna play so well in front of me. We always play hard. It’s nice to sit back in the net and know those guys in front of you are gonna play their hardest. Most nights we’re gonna outwork the other team, so I just try to do my job when called upon.” -Doug Carr on how confident he feels in net
Can’t put it any better than that. Everything you need to know about why the River Hawks are in the top half of Hockey East is right there in those two quotes.
What else you should know
-This marked Lowell’s first win over BC since Feb. 12, 2010. The Eagles had won each of the previous six meetings before Friday.
-Lowell defenseman Daniel Furlong left the game in the third period and did not return after suffering an apparent shoulder injury on a hard hit by Bill Arnold. Lowell coach Norm Bazin said after the game that he did not yet have an update on Furlong’s condition. Arnold was called for roughing on the play.