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River Hawks draw against Colgate on second Homecoming weekend matchup

(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)

Aaron Robinson

Connector Editor

After a crushing 4-3 overtime loss to the Colgate University Raiders on Friday night, the UMass Lowell River Hawks fought to a tough 0-0 tie on Saturday night to improve to 3-2-1 (0-0-0 HEA) on the young season.

The raucous UMass Lowell crowd erupted early and often, as the always packed Homecoming weekend crowd seemed to provide a lot of inspiration for the River Hawks out of the gate.

After freshman goaltender Logan Neaton struggled in his first collegiate start on Friday, River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin went back to senior netminder Tyler Wall on Saturday.

The Raiders’ defense clogged passing lanes all night long, though, not allowing the River Hawks to get many decent scoring chances. The game was a sloppy slugfest all the way around and no team could best the other’s goalie.

The River Hawks defense was less than stellar, especially in the second period, allowing the Raiders a number of odd man rushes. If not for the stellar goaltending for Wall, the game might have been out of reach.

Wall made several highlight reel saves in the second period, sprawling all over the ice to knock away several prime scoring chances for Colgate.

“[Wall] has been compact, aggressive… he’s been doing a good job for us,” said Bazin.

Colgate appeared to score off a bouncing shot at Wall midway through the first period, but the goal was overturned almost immediately after the referees determined the Raiders were offside. That would be the closest the Raiders got to Wall and likely would have been the difference if it counted.

An underlying aspect of the game was also the River Hawks power play unit, which amassed six total shots on goal and could not seem to gain any separation from the Colgate defense. Overall, the unit went 0-4.

“There were lots of chances on both sides, and both goalies were excellent,” said Bazin. “We had some looks and it certainly wasn’t going in…one at the end there, not sure how that didn’t go in, but it didn’t; so, you gotta tip your hat to both goaltenders who did a great job.”

Raiders goaltender Mitch Benson recorded his first career shutout against the River Hawks, stopping 34 shots and making a handful of key saves in the third period and overtime.

“It was a great team effort,” said Benson. “Defense was solid all night; we got some huge blocks, especially in the third period, and we had our chances, but we played pretty well, got a couple of big saves.”

The tie snapped a two-game skid for the River Hawks, who had been coming off a split series against the former No. 1 ranked University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The team, however, is winless in their last three matchups.

“I thought [the River Hawks] were good in transition with the puck, and especially in this rink, where there is a lot of area behind the net… solid team, solid effort,” Benson said.

The River Hawks amassed 34 shots on goal and Wall collected 25 saves in his eighth career shutout.

The River Hawks return to action Friday, Oct. 25, against the Boston University Terriers in the first Hockey East matchup of the season for both teams. This will be the first meeting between the teams since the opening round of the HEA playoffs last season, when the Terriers won a best of three series. Puck drops at 7 p.m. from the Tsongas Center and will also be broadcast on NESN.

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