Denver Dunks River Hawks

December 30, 2018
UMass Lowell's Connor Sodergren (left) gets the jump on the University of Denver's Jake Durflinger as they chase down the puck along the boards in Saturday night's game at the Tsongas Center. SUN/Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- The UMass Lowell hockey team returned from its annual holiday break

Pioneers 4, UML 1

looking to end the calendar year with a win over the 8th-ranked team in the country, the University of Denver Pioneers. It was the 12th meeting between the teams with the last being played in December of 2012.

In front of a crowd of 5,363 at the Tsongas Center, the River Hawks and Pioneers engaged in a defensive battle for most of the night until Denver’s special teams took over, scoring two power-play goals in the third period on their way to a 4-1 win over UMass Lowell.

Denver’s top line of Jarid Lukosevicius, Cole Guttman and Emilio Pettersen did most of the damage with Lukosevicius contributing two goals, Guttman with one goal and one assist, and Pettersen with two assists. Pioneers goaltender Filip Larsson stopped 16 shots in recording the win.

River Hawks defenseman Seth Barton scored his team’s only goal of the evening.

The River Hawks (8-7-1) came out of the gate out-skating and out-playing their opponent from Colorado and appeared to take a 1-0 lead 3:02 into the first period when defenseman Jon McDonald sent a wrist shot over Larsson’s glove. But it was ruled no goal on the ice and verified by the officials after reviewing the replay.

Thanks to their goaltenders, Larsson and Tyler Wall, the teams skated into the first intermission in a 0-0 tie.

The second period was a more defensive battle with each club battling for skating room and when called upon, each puck-stopper came up big.

Wall’s best save of the period coming off the stick of the Pioneers’ Jake Durflinger who sent a backhand shot at the UML net but Wall got his glove on it.

At the other end, Denver’s Larsson, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, stopped Charlie Levesque’s bid from between the faceoff circles with five minutes to play in the period.

Just when it looked like this tilt might remain scoreless after two periods, the Pioneers took a 1-0 lead when Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Guttman sprinted to the top of Wall’s crease and sent a pass from Emilio Pettersen past the netminder with 2:51 remaining in the period.

In the third period, the Pioneers took advantage of a power play to extend their lead to 2-0 on Lukosevicius’ strike at the 3:19 mark.

Lukosevicius would contribute his second of the night with another power-play goal extending Denver’s lead to 3-0.

The River Hawks were able to cash in on a power play of their own when Barton broke the shutout with a wrist shot from the point that eluded Larsson’s glove hand at 12:39 of the frame. The goal cut Denver’s lead to 3-1 and was assisted by Ryan Lohin.

Pioneers forward Ryan Barrow put the final nail in the coffin at the 17:45 mark of the final period.

The River Hawks play Friday at UMass Amherst.