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Boyle breaks record, River Hawks move on to semis

Teammates watch as Michael Lauria fires a shot on goal as UMass Lowell takes down Boston University in a series sweep. (George DeLuca/Connector)

Kyle Gaudette
Connector Editor

Boston University was ranked eighth in the nation, but on Saturday night, they got absolutely spanked by UMass Lowell.

Senior goalie Kevin Boyle broke the UMass Lowell single season shutout record, and the River Hawks dominated the Terriers 5-0 to advance to their fourth consecutive Hockey East semifinals. The win capped off a weekend sweep for the River Hawks, who now travel to the TD Garden next weekend.

“It speaks to the continuity and the stability of the program,” said UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin. “These guys are really excited to go to the Garden. They know what a special weekend that is. It’s down to two games now.”

Boyle earned his record setting seventh shutout of the year with a 23 save performance. He passed UMass Lowell greats Connor Hellebuyck and Cam McCormick to now claim the UMass Lowell single-season shutout record all by himself.

“It’s a cool accomplishment to even be in the conversation as those guys,” said Boyle. “I’ve said all year that whenever we get a shutout it’s a team shutout. The team in front of me did a great job blocking shots tonight. I had a lot of tics, and they made my job easy. It’s nice, but we have more hockey to play.”

“I think it’s loud and clear when a kid ends up first in Hockey East in goals against and save percentage,” said Bazin. “There are some pretty specials goalies who have had that honor. I think he’s a first-team all-leaguer. He’s a poised kid who has continued to develop over his years here. He let’s his play do the talking, and I’m extremely proud of him”

C.J. Smith scored two goals in the win, and put home his second of the night early in the second period when he had an empty net to shot on after a rebound bounced his way. Smith had three assists in Friday night’s contest, and now has a team leading 16 goals and 37 points.

Smith has found a home on a line consisting of him, Joe Gambardella and freshman John Edwardh. The line combined for seven points in the weekend series against BU.

“They’ve got chemistry feeding off each other,” said Bazin. “C.J. benefits from Gambo’s work, and Gambo benefits from C.J.’s creativity. They’re a good match, and then obviously you got the third guy on that line Eddie whose very responsible defensively.”

Jake Kamrass scored his fifth goal of the season just three minutes into the game for the River Hawks. Kamrass skated across the blue line with a defender in his face. He skated to his left to get separation, and sniped the puck past BU goalie Sean Maguire top-shelf. UMass Lowell led the shots category 12-8 after the first.

The River Hawks had a powerplay opportunity, but did not convert. The man advantage led to heighten UMass Lowell attack, however, that resulted in Kamrass’ game-winning goal.

“We talked about special teams being a big part of the game,” said Smith. “You don’t always score on special teams, but I thought after the powerplay we started to build a little momentum and that’s when we got things going.”

The River Hawks opened the game up six minutes into the second period when Gambardella scored his eighth goal of the season. The goal came off a wrister in front of the net, and caused a change in goalie for the Terriers. Maguire was pulled for sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee.

Smith made sure LaCouvee felt welcome, driving hard to the net and shooting the puck five-hole to give UMass Lowell a 3-0 lead.

Up 4-0 after Smith’s second goal, Edwardh made sure there was no chance for a comeback by putting in his third goal of the season.

The River Hawks now await the winner of the B.C. vs. Vermont series to see who they will face in the semis. Their opponent will either be Northeastern or Providence.