River Hawks Give Warm Feeling to Home Crowd
LOWELL -- Home sweet home.
UML 6, Vermont 0
The UMass Lowell hockey team made a triumphant return to the Tsongas Center ice by shutting out Vermont, 6-0, during a Hockey East clash Friday night before 5,389 fans.
It was the first meeting of the season between the rivals and it did not take long to see that UMass Lowell missed the confines of its home arena.
Led by Ryan Dmowski’s three points, all assists, and Tyler Mueller’s two assists -- not to mention a 21-save effort from goaltender Christoffer Hernberg -- the River Hawks dominated the Catamounts.
After celebrating the holidays with their families and playing two games (defeat over Harvard, loss to St. Lawrence) in the Catamount Cup at the University of Vermont, the River Hawks were hungry to please their home fans.
“It felt good (to be back on home ice),” Mueller said. “I was thinking that it feels like forever since we played here. It’s good to get out in front of our fans and see their support again and put together a good game.”
For coach Norm Bazin, who gained the 200th victory of his NCAA coaching career (38 at Hamilton College, 162 at UMass Lowell), the win was due to getting a total team effort.
“It’s a good win for us,” Bazin said. “Getting any wins in Hockey East is difficult and they’re a good opponent. I thought we had contributions (from) a lot of guys in the lineup. I thought the penalty kill (2-for-2) was strong. I thought the power play contributed with a couple of their own so it was a good effort.”
Concerning the coaching milestone, the bench boss noted that he has had good people around him to assist with the achievement.
“I didn’t even know about it to be honest with you,” said Bazin. “It’s terrific. I think I’ve got a great staff so I’m very fortunate.”
“It’s very impressive,” Mueller added when asked about his coach’s career. “Obviously since he’s come here, (there’s) been success for our team led by him so it’s good for our program and (we) look forward to continuing his success moving forward.”
The River Hawks came out flying and used its patented forecheck to hem in the young (seven freshmen) Catamounts in the early going and it payidd off at the 9:08 mark when Niklas Folin received a pass out of the UVM corner from Ryan Collins and sent a blisting slap shot from the top of the right face off circle past Vermont goaltender Stefano Lekkas, giving UML a 1-0 lead. Mattias Goransson garnered the secondary assist.
Just as the fans were finishing celebrating the Folin goal, UMass Lowell went up by two goals. Freshman Charlie Levesque was in the right place at the right time. Parked to the left of Lekkas, he poked home the rebound of a Dmowski wrister 10:20 into the period. Connor Sodergren also recorded an assist on the lamplighter.
The River Hawks caught the Vermont defense asleep at the switch at the 17:38 mark of the frame when Anthony Baxter, who received a pass from Mueller, found John Edwardh in the middle of the Catamounts’ blue line and sent a perfect pass onto Edwardh’s tape to send him in alone on Lekkas. Edwardh put a wrist shot over the netminder’s glove, increasing UMass Lowell’s lead to 3-0.
UML wasn’t done.
The River Hawks broke into the Vermont zone on a 4-on-2 rush and Sodergren took a cross-crease pass from Dmowski and sent the puck past Lekkas, giving UML a 4-0 lead just 59 seconds into the second period.
Connor Wilson got his name on the scoresheet for UML with a power play goal at the 9:53 mark. He put a rebound of a Dmowski shot past Lekkas, putting the River Hawks in the lead 5-0. Mueller picked up his second assist of the game.
Wilson’s goal would be the end of the night for Lekkas. Catamounts coach Kevin Sneddon replaced him with freshman Tyler Harmon.
UMass Lowell took the five-goal lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes.
UML widened the lead to 6-0 with its second power-play goal of the night 6:41 into the third period off the stick of Chris Forney, whose shot from the left point eluded Harmon. Levesque and Tommy Panico assisted on the play.
UMass Lowell entered the contest in fifth place in the conference with the win -- the River Hawks moved into third place (7-6-0 Hockey East, 11-9-0 overall) in the conference and will return to action Saturday versus UMass at the Tsongas Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.