The Takeaway: Lowell Comes From Behind, Ties Northeastern

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

BOSTON — Massachusetts-Lowell overcame a two-goal third-period deficit to force a 4-4 tie at Northeastern on Friday. The tie ended the River Hawks’ nine-game winning streak, but extended their unbeaten streak to 10 games. Steve Morra put that streak in serious jeopardy when he gave the Huskies (7-11-3, 4-9-3 Hockey East) a 4-2 lead 1:31 into the third with his first career goal.

The River Hawks (13-7-2, 7-6-2 HE) battled back, though. Daniel Furlong cut the lead in half three minutes later when he beat Bryan Mountain (41 saves) with a shot through traffic. Derek Arnold tied the game on the power play with 4:42 left in regulation when he collected a loose puck at the side of the net and buried it before Mountain could get across.

What I saw
-Kevin Roy scored twice for Northeastern, giving him nine goals in the last 11 games. Both were just smart, good shots. The first came on a drop pass from Vinny Saponari. Roy took the puck at the top of the right circle, looked around, realized his best option was to take the shot, and beat Doug Carr glove-side. On the second, he carried the puck down the left side, used Furlong as a screen, and shot through the legs of both Furlong and Carr. Roy is first nationally in points per game among freshmen with 1.19, and sixth among all Hockey East players in the same category.

-Lowell coach Norm Bazin pulled starter Doug Carr after Northeastern’s third goal. With the red-hot Connor Hellebuyck out with an injury, that meant third-string goalie Brian Robbins saw his first action of the season. Carr had a chance on all three goals, but none of them were really soft. Still, Bazin said he thought Carr was having an off night, so he decided to make the switch. Whether Carr deserved to be pulled ended up not mattering, as Robbins played great in relief. He stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced, all of them in the third period or overtime. Robbins probably won’t be taking any starts away from Carr and Hellebuyck, but on Friday, he certainly showed that he can be called upon if needed.

What I thought
-If you just look at the fact that there were eight goals, 77 shots on goal, a third-period comeback and an overtime, you would think was a phenomenal game. But it really wasn’t. In fact, it was a pretty sloppy game. There were a lot of bad passes, a lot of turnovers, and a lot of lulls in the action. The River Hawks put 45 shots on goal, but only 10 of them came from below the faceoff dots. The Huskies blocked 19 shots, but they also allowed 45 to get through. At the other end of the ice, Northeastern registered eight shots on goal from below the dots. More than anything, though, there were just too many mistakes and too many bad plays for this to be considered a great hockey game.

-Bryan Mountain got the start over Chris Rawlings and played pretty well for the most part, but Lowell’s second goal was one of the softest you’ll ever see. Chad Ruhwedel carried the puck across center ice and put a wrister on goal from about 75 feet out that Mountain somehow just missed. He didn’t appear to be screened or anything, and he wasn’t out of his net waiting for a dump-in. It looked like he just wasn’t expecting Ruhwedel to put the puck on net, and he failed to react in time to make what should have been an easy save. Mountain also failed to cover a rebound on Lowell’s first goal, but A.J. White deserves a lot of credit for digging it out of his pads. In fairness to Mountain, he couldn’t have done much on Lowell’s third and fourth goals, and he did make some big saves down the stretch.

What they said
-Northeastern coach Jim Madigan: “I liked the effort of our team tonight. I thought we played hard. It was a good effort throughout 60 minutes. Disappointed that we gave up a two-goal lead. … I don’t like the fact that we gave up two points at home, but I liked the effort, and we got a point. We’ll look forward to tomorrow night and try to win the weekend.”

-Lowell coach Norm Bazin: “I’m glad the guys found a way to salvage a point on the road. It’s not every day you’re down by two in the third period and you still find a point. I think in the end, that point will prove very valuable for us.”

What else you should know
-In addition to Hellebuyck, Lowell was without freshman forward Ryan McGrath, who is tied for sixth on the team in points. Bazin said after the game that both Hellebuyck and McGrath are day-to-day with injuries, but he wouldn’t specify what the injuries are.

-With the point, Northeastern moved one point ahead of Vermont (who lost on Friday) in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Lowell remained in sixth, where it trails Merrimack and Providence by two points in the race for the fourth and final home ice spot. Lowell also remains seventh in the Pairwise as of 11:20 p.m.

-These two teams conclude their season series Saturday night in Lowell.

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