UMass Lowell fought back in the third period to salvage a tie against UNH (Matt Dwyer/Connector)
Alecia Connolly and Aaron Robinson
Ryan Lohin scored two goals in 27 seconds after returning from injury, and the UMass Lowell River Hawks overcame a 2-0 third period deficit to tie the University of New Hampshire Wildcats Friday night in Hockey East action.
The River Hawks (4-4-1) were playing from behind most of the night until Lohin’s breakout third period against the Wildcats (2-4-2). Lohin’s first goal came with 2:13 left in the third period after the River Hawks pulled goaltender Tyler Wall to gain the man advantage, finally catching Wildcats goaltender Mike Robinson off guard and cutting the River Hawks deficit in half.
The second goal came shortly after the center faceoff when Lohin hit a beautiful one-timer from the right faceoff circle through the pads of Robinson, again with Wall pulled and an extra skater on the ice. With the extra skater, the River Hawks were able to crowd the net, making it more difficult for Robinson to stop the puck.
“I thought we started off a bit slow. [the Wildcats] really took it to us in the beginning,” Lohin said. “But we were able to bounce back and show some resilience in the final two periods. Luckily, we were rewarded late and able to come away with a tie.”
The River Hawks offensive barrage finally turned into positive results as the team showed once again that the third period is when they play their most inspired hockey.
“I liked our response,” said River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin. “Obviously getting a point like this is a good thing.”
The River Hawks had their chances early but failed to capitalize on their scoring opportunities. After a potential power play goal was waved off by officials six minutes into the game, Wildcat Ara Nazarin buried a shot past Wall with 8:21 remaining in the first period to get the scoring started
After a five-minute major for boarding on the Wildcats Anthony Wyse, which led to Lohin’s injury and subsequent removal, and a two-minute minor for interference on River Hawks Sam Knoblauch, Marcus Vela sniped a beautiful shot from the slot over Wall’s glove hand as the first period neared its end and the Wildcats lead doubled.
The boarding call on Wyse was worthy of a game misconduct, his first of the season.
The River Hawks rebounded in the second, outshooting UNH by the tune of 15-1, yet were unable to net a goal past Robinson. The River Hawks had a pair of power play chances, but UNH killed off each penalty successfully.
“We need to get better on the power play, no question,” said Coach Bazin. “We had eight or nine [power play goals] in our first five games, but only three since. It’s not enough… we have to improve.”
Although the River Hawks were unable to score, they dominated time controlling the puck, in large part to three penalties called against the Wildcats.
Shortly after the third period began, the River Hawks were once again on the power play but once again came up empty.
The defense stepped up after the first period, only allowing 4 shots on goal in the second and third period as well as killing off a key power play midway through the third that could have potentially iced the game for the Wildcats.
“Tyler played great,” Lohin said. “He definitely gave us a great chance to come back.”
In overtime, neither team could break through but Wall held his own as the Wildcats held the puck in the River Hawks zone through most of the overtime period. As Wall turned away shot after shot, fans counted down in glee as the clock hit zero and the River Hawks escaped with the tie.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys in that locker room looking for guidance, and I thought some of the upperclassmen were very slow… we’re looking for strong starts, but it’s a team game and we’re not going to blame any specific [players]; we have to have a better start in the Hockey East to hope to have success,” said Coach Bazin.
UMass Lowell travels to Boston Saturday night to take on Northeastern in another Hockey East matchup. Puck drops at 7 p.m.