Junior goaltender Tyler Wall stopped 28 shots in Friday night’s game against Providence. (Matt Dwyer/Connector)
Andrew J. Sciascia
Coming off of an exciting two weeks and ten games without a loss, the UMass Lowell men’s ice hockey team came out to face the Providence College Friars with no shortage of intensity.
After just two minutes of play Friday night the River Hawks had found the back of the net in an exciting odd-man rush. But fortune was not on their side and the officials quickly killed the excitement of the crowd at the Tsongas Center, waving off the goal for incidental goaltender interference.
Just two minutes later the Friars would be the first to truly find the scoresheet with a rebound goal from junior forward, and captain, Kasper Bjorqvist.
For UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin, these opening moments encapsulated the night.
“I liked our first three minutes. And I’d have to say that’s about all I liked. I thought our attention to detail was poor. I thought our alertness was poor. I though our focus was poor,” said Bazin.
Unfortunately for Bazin and the River Hawks, however, the defeat would not be dealt as a result of a singular Friar goal, but a slew of them.
Following Bjorqvist’s early goal, and another from junior forward Brandon Duhaime late in the first period of play, the Friars did anything but let up.
The Friars’ offense came up big Friday, bringing the River Hawks’ record at home to 6-6-2 in a devasting, and entirely uncharacteristic, 6-1 tilt.
“Our opponent took it to us from minute three to minute 60… Listen, you lose as a team and you win as a team, but you’re only as good as your last game. This was a stinker,” said Bazin, “Honestly, games like this it starts with me. I wasn’t prepared enough.”
From an excessive amount turnovers to numerous shots wide of the Providence net, the River Hawks simply could not manage to string together an offensive effort – and junior goaltender Tyler Wall was made to pay the price for these mistakes.
In a second period in which the River Hawks only managed to put two shots on Providence College’s senior netminder Hayden Hawkey, Friar lead grew tremendously.
Not only would Bjorkqvist manage his second goal of the evening, with a second helper from freshman forward Jack Dugan, but sophomore forward Greg Printz and freshman defenseman Michael Callahan would also find the back of the net in the second period.
Still, the scoring bout came as a surprise to Providence head coach Nate Leaman, however, who indicated that he had been worried coming into Friday night’s game considering the team’s recent scoring difficulties.
In fact, the Friars had not scored more than four goals in a single night since nearly seven weeks earlier when they took on Dartmouth College on the road in late January.
“It was nice to finally score some goals… These last few, I don’t even think we have scored a first period goal. I think that was the difference in this game,” said Leaman.
It was UMass Lowell that seemed plagued with an inability to score Friday, however, and it was not until three minutes into the final period of regulation that the River Hawks even made it into the scoresheet.
Yet, their first and only goal of the night, which came by way of sophomore forward, and Massachusetts native, Connor Sodergren, was far too little and far too late – especially when followed up by another Friar goal just 19 seconds later.
Regardless, Bazin tried to take what little positive energy he could away from Friday night’s loss.
“I think the best thing that you can say about this game is that we get to play again tomorrow,” said Bazin.
With another game against the Friars coming in less than 24-hours, Bazin emphasized that his River Hawks were going to need to focus on “getting the poison out” and ignoring the“nonsense that was being printed” about them should they hope to come away with two points Saturday.
Luckily for the River Hawks, their 6-6-2 record at home is very much overshadowed by their road record of 11-3, and they look to remain consistent on the road, February 16th at the Schneider Arena in Providence. Puck drop for the River Hawks’ rematch with the Friars is 7p.m.