Freshman center Kenny Hausinger (left) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the second period of Sunday’s game. (Matt Dwyer)
by Hannah Manning
The UMass Lowell men’s ice hockey team saw to it that the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers slunk out of the Tsongas Center with their tails between their legs. In a span of two hours exactly, the River Hawks scored 7 goals to the Panthers’ zero. The River Hawks are now 22-3-4 against Canadian colleges, and 12-0-3 in exhibition games.
“I think for our first contest, [the River Hawks] responded pretty well. You could tell that [Prince Edward Island] were running out of gas midway through the game. They played a game the other night, they have played a couple of games so far this year, and they had a little more gamesmanship than we did,” said Head Coach Norm Bazin.
The game marked the debuts of sophomore Sean Cleary and freshman Tyler Wall. Cleary started the first period and saw one shot. Wall substituted Cleary in the second period and saw four shots in total, and absorbed each one. Sophomore Christoffer Hernberg, who had one and a half games of experience under his belt, played the third period and saw seven shots. The three shared the evening’s shutout.
15 different River Hawks had their mitts on the 7 goals scored. Junior forwards John Edwardh and assistant captain Tyler Mueller made appearances on two goals in a row, providing assists to first junior defenseman Chris Forney and then freshman forward Guillaume LeClerc. Sophomore forward Connor Wilson opened up the scoring 52 seconds into the game.
The River Hawks scored 3 goals before the Panthers had one shot on the board. When the River Hawks had scored 7 goals, the Panthers had just as many shots on net. UMass Lowell dominated possession of the puck throughout the game, but a major factor in so few shots getting to the River Hawk net was the trademark UMass Lowell defense on display.
“Whenever you’re able to have very few shots against and score on the power play, the first goal is always a crucial element in having a successful game, so we touched on all three of those,” said Coach Bazin.
The game featured many of the nine freshmen on the 2016-17 roster, giving them a chance to show their stuff. Moreover, it was the time to make a case as to why they should be played in future games.
Freshmen forwards Kenny Hausinger and LeClerc had one goal each, while forward James Winkler notched a secondary assist on Wilson’s goal. Defenseman Mattias Göransson finished the game with five shots on goal and a +2 rating.
“I thought they played a simple game. They didn’t try to do too much, but competed and battled on the walls and gave a good effort for us,” said Mueller.
Prince Edward Island gave UMass Lowell a plethora of opportunities to flex their skills on the power play. Their consistently physical play landed them in the penalty box ten times in the ninety minutes of regulation time. UMass Lowell, hardly a team to waste chances handed to them on a silver platter, scored two power play goals, both in the second period. Junior forward Jake Kamrass scored the first 2:22 into the period on an assist from senior defenseman Dylan Zink, while Forney ripped a slapshot that sailed over the head of Panthers goaltender Connor Wilkinson.
“Overall, I liked our effort more than anything because I thought that our kept feet moving, and we kept winning some battles, and that’s what you’ve gotta do against a team like [Prince Edward Island,” said Coach Bazin.
Bazin acknowledged that the lack of shots that got to his three goaltenders gave fans very little to watch, especially in a time of heightened curiosity over which of the four on the roster will win the starting position. “But at the same time, we got those guys their first college action. They got the jitters out of the way, and next week one of them is going to start against a powerful Minnesota Duluth team. So we’re excited for that,” said Coach Bazin.
The UMass Lowell River Hawks will have their home opener on Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:15 p.m. against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. During the pregame festivities, the 2016 NCAA tournament banner will be unveiled. The River Hawks finished just one game short of the NCAA Frozen Four, losing to Quinnipiac in the regional finals.