Senior forward John Edwardh looks to make a pass while being defended by a Bentley player. (Matt Dwyer/Connector)
An unevenly played game led to the UMass Lowell men’s ice hockey team snapping their four-game win streak on Tuesday Nov. 28 at the Tsongas Center. The River Hawks were handed a tough 3-2 overtime loss in a nonconference matchup against the Bentley University Falcons.
With this loss, the River Hawks fell to a 8-7-0 record while providing Bentley with their fourth win in a row to bring their record up to 4-7-4.
It was the result of a grueling physical contest on the part of Bentley, and the coach acknowledged this with pride. He said that while it was, at times, a rough game, it was good for his team to get out of the Atlantic Hockey conference and best a Hockey East team.
“Sometimes, you just have to win ugly,” said Bentley head coach Ryan Soderquist.
The loss was difficult for the River Hawks to swallow, as they came back from a 10-day break hoping to notch another tally in the win column against a nonconference opponent that they have not played since Dec. 30, 2012.
“After a long layoff, we wanted to come out storming. But I thought we didn’t have enough urgency to take the game to the opponent,” said UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin.
While the game had its fair share of negatives for UMass Lowell, a few bright spots were present on the River Hawks’ roster. Senior forward John Edwardh kept the energy up as the time winded down, spearheading three consecutive scoring chances in the late third period.
Yet cracks showed early, and the lack of energy and urgency in the first two periods stifled the potential that the game once had. And by the time UMass Lowell managed to warm itself up in the third period, it was far too little, far too late.
It was quiet in both the stands and on the ice throughout the game. Play between the Falcons and River Hawks was mostly back and forth, especially in the first period.
Senior forward Jake Kamrass opened up the scoring at 5:35 into the first period with a top-shelf snipe that whipped past Bentley sophomore goaltender Aiden Pelino.
Pelino turned in an impressive performance, stopping 27 shots in total and allowing Bentley to run away with the game. He allowed only one other goal, a snipe played from the slot by junior forward Nick Master
Even with the thunderous response from the small but devoted crowd on Tuesday night when UMass Lowell did well, the River Hawks’ play ebbed and flowed as the game went on.
For what it is worth, the game was a nonconference matchup in the beginning of the week. Yet it was mildly troubling that the River Hawks seemed content to let the Falcons breathe down their necks for sixty minutes.
The River Hawks played with at-times frustratingly low intensity, which mounted as Bentley came from behind to tie them twice in the game. Despite having a good handful of scoring chances in the first period and a portion of the second, UMass Lowell skated on neutral. Rebounds were not met and passing was sometimes spotty.
“We have to look from within the room. I think the third period, we don’t give up a shot, you get to overtime, things usually go your way because you’re carrying the play. At the same time, it only takes one shot to score,” said Bazin.
The River Hawks especially had difficulty on the power play, failing to capitalize on any of the five chances offered to them by Bentley. Three of those chances came in the second period.
“I don’t think we committed to that part very well, and that’s something we’re going to need to get better at because when you have a few power play opportunities and you don’t take advantage of them, you’re kind of leaving the game in balance,” said Bazin.
The power play has been a season-long issue for the River Hawks. They have only scored 11 times out of 65 opportunities on the man advantage.
“The hunger and the power play wasn’t, obviously, good enough,” said Bazin.
The River Hawks head into another lengthy break as they will not play again until Dec. 8 in a home game against Boston University. Puck drop for the last home game until the new year is at 7:15 p.m.