Durham, NH – New Hampshire came out with a lot of fire and heavily outplayed its opponent, UMass-Lowell, for much of the first period. In the first period UNH outshot the River Hawks 10-3 and the latter had an impressive 13 blocks in the first period. The second period, however, was a diferent story as UML came out and took it to UNH at times, especially late in the period.
UNH opened the scoring at ten minutes, 28 seconds of the second when Brett Pesce took a wrist shot from the point and it ended up behind Doug Carr. It was surprisingly Pesce’s first goal and point of the season. Lowell then took control of the period and found the back of the net twice within a minute and 45 seconds, as Joseph Pendenza scored his fourth of the season and Christian Folin backed it up to give Lowell the 2-1 second intermission lead.
Lowell stifled UNH in the final period but UNH would score a late power-play goal with 1:13 remaining in the game off the stick of Grayson Downing. It was the first of the season for the struggling forward. Derek Arnold would score an overtime goal at 3:17 of the period on the power-play to give Lowell the 3-2 win over UNH. The win was UML’s fourth consecutive victory improving its record to 5-3-0, 2-0-0 in Hockey East. UNH is winless in five games and drops its record to 1-5-1 on the season and 0-2-0 in Hockey East.
What I Saw
- Lowell looked tentative for much of the first half of the game and seemed to half no answer for UNH’s active sticks. Any chance it had at a loose puck UNH cradled and seemed to clear. But as Lowell has done over the last few seasons, when UNH made mistakes it was able to take advantage. Being able to finish is a mark of great teams, and again Lowell showed its ability to finish off its opponents mistakes.
- Unlike UML, UNH continues its season long struggle with finishing chances. On this night its worst enemy was not itself but it was Lowell throwing a block party in front of Doug Carr. In the first period alone, UNH had tons of glorious chances but Lowell managed to block 15 shots, many of which would have been great, quality opportunities to score. Credit Lowell in one sense but if UNH wants to score it may need to make one more move to get around a defender. Right now it might just be something of an identity that UNH has taken hold of in the early going; not one a hockey team would like.
What I Thought
- I have seen Lowell twice this season, and twice I have left thinking that it is not the same team that we all thought it would be. The season is still young and Lowell has plenty more opportunities to show its true identity. On this night, it was more of a case of not playing a full 60 minute game then not looking like the dominant team we thought they would be. But still neither of these teams on the ice left me thinking the same as when I walked out of Yale the night prior, that one or more could really make tons of noise. As I keep saying though, it is still very early to be making these assumptions as teams improve. I saw two overtime games and two very differently played games this weekend.
- UNH has struggled in its first seven games of the season and quite frankly it should not be time to panic in Durham. In those seven games UNH has played four teams that are capable of being in the Frozen Four come April. RPI, Michigan, Minnesota account for all seven losses the Wildcats have. If it can rattle off wins from now until the end the season it should be fine but losses breed losses, which has unfortunately been the case for them. The season is young enough for them and time is there to resurrect its season but unfortunately those quality opponents may come back to haunt it late in the season if it doesn’t start winning.
What They Said
UML coach Norm Bazin said,
“It was a great weekend for us. Whenever you can pick up two points against a quality opponent like UNH, you have to be very pleased. Tonight wasn’t a work of art but we plugged through the first period and got better as the game went on.”
“Different teams progress at different rates. We just want to keep improving so we are a really good team at the end of the season. The media and a bunch of people outside the program were more worried about our start than we were.”
UNH coach Dick Umile said,
“That was a tough one take and it was a tough pill to swallow because of how well our guys competed. It is as hard as we have competed against them in a long time, even when we beat them three times last season.”
UNH forward Kevin Goumas said,
“We battled hard to tie it with like two minutes left and scored on the power-play to do so. We got out-chanced in overtime and I made a couple of bad passes that led to a breakaway, which we took a penalty and they scored on the power-play. It’s unfortunate but we should have came out with at least one point tonight.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH will play a home and home series with UMass next weekend. UNH will look to finally play 60 minutes, get opportunities to finish and to put the puck in the net before its season begins to unravel. At 1-5-1 overall it will be an uphill battle for them, despite its strength of schedule probably being the tops in the nation come seasons end.
Lowell continues to improve from night to night and has now won four games in a row. They may not have looked great but it still goes down as a win. UML will travel to Princeton for a lone non-conference game on Saturday. The Tigers enter off a loss to Colgate earlier on Saturday.