The Takeaway: Lowell Explodes for Six, Beats Vermont

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

LOWELL, Mass. — UMass-Lowell exploded for six goals Saturday night as they beat Vermont 6-4 in a game that decided the season series. The River Hawks took a 2-0 lead just six minutes in when Chad Ruhwedel and Terrence Wallin scored 56 seconds apart. After Sebastian Stalberg (2g) scored later in the first, Scott Wilson (1g, 2a) restored the two-goal lead for Lowell (18-7-0, 13-6-0 HE) just 1:12 later.

Kyle Reynolds (1g, 3a) cut the deficit to one for Vermont (5-21-1, 2-17-1 HE) late in the first, but Derek Arnold and Colin Wright scored in the second to give the River Hawks a three-goal cushion entering the third. The Catamounts staged a late comeback and cut the lead to 5-4 with 49 seconds remaining, but then Josh Holmstrom (1g, 1a) sealed the win with an empty-netter.

What I saw

-Vermont starter Alex Vazzano got pulled six minutes into the game after giving up two goals on five shots. There wasn’t a whole lot he could’ve done on the first goal, as Ruhwedel had time to walk in from the point and snipe the top right corner. The second, however, was one he’d like to have back. Wallin took a slap shot from about three feet outside the blue line and it sailed right past Vazzano’s blocker. Rob Madore played well for a few minutes off the bench, but wound up surrendering three goals on 23 shots.

-Lowell showed some good resolve early in the second after having a goal waved off. Sometimes having a goal taken back can deflate a team, but the River Hawks didn’t slow down at all and wound up scoring just 28 seconds after the review. After Rob Madore stopped Riley Wetmore’s (2a) initial shot, Arnold found the rebound in the crease and banged it home to give the River Hawks a 4-2 lead.

What I thought

-The Catamounts were fortunate to go into the first intermission trailing by only one. Lowell got out to the quick 2-0 lead and then took just over a minute to make it 3-1 after Vermont’s first goal. The River Hawks controlled play for most of the opening stanza and outshot UVM 13-7 in the period, but Reynolds cut the lead to one with 40 seconds to go when he beat two Lowell defenders and flipped a backhander past Doug Carr (20 saves).

-Scott Wilson is making a strong case for Hockey East Rookie of the Year. His 13 goals and 26 points overall are tops among freshmen, as are his 10 goals and 19 points in conference play. He scored Lowell’s third goal Saturday when he collected a faceoff win and rifled a snap shot over Madore’s right shoulder. He appeared to score another goal when he ripped a one-timer past Madore early in the second, but it was waved off due to a player in the crease. Later in the period, Wilson earned a primary assist when Wright tipped in his shot from the top of the right circle. He also assisted on Holmstrom’s empty-netter, landed several good hits and was really just a force all night.

What they said

Scott Wilson: “We’re trying to win a national title here. … Coming into the year, Coach [Norm Bazin] realized that we had a lot of freshmen coming in, but we’re not in a rebuilding season at all. We’re going to the top. You always gotta look forward. All we can see is the top right now, so we’re just gonna keep going and keep banging away. Hopefully we can get to the tournament and be as successful as possible.”

It should go without saying that a team that’s second in both Hockey East and the PairWise is gunning for a national title. Still, it’s crazy that the sky’s the limit for the River Hawks given how little was expected of them before the season. They were coming off the worst season in program history and were picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches poll.

Most outsiders figured it would be a rebuilding season, but Bazin and company obviously had their goals set much higher than that. The River Hawks have put themselves in position to contend for championships, but their biggest challenge is still in front of them. Their next six games — not in order — are against Merrimack (three times), BU (twice) and Maine.

What else you should know

-With the win, Lowell is now all alone in second, one point behind first-place BU with a game in hand. As of 10:35 p.m. ET, the River Hawks were tied for second in the PairWise with Minnesota-Duluth. Meanwhile, Vermont is now 11 points out of a playoff spot with just seven games to go.

One Response to “The Takeaway: Lowell Explodes for Six, Beats Vermont”

  1. College Hockey News: Blog » Blog Archive » Hockey East Power Rankings: 2/8/12 Says:

    […] spot after taking care of business against Vermont, as they beat the Catamounts 3-1 on Friday and 6-4 on Saturday. Lowell has now won four in a row and 13 of its last 16. Scott Wilson had two goals and three […]