The Minutemen (3-6-3), who have earned at least a tie in their past four games, stringed together three unanswered goals in the third period to capture the victory.
Senior Danny Hobbs scored two goals for the first time in his career while freshman Michael Pereira extended his scoring streak to eight games, registering three assists.
Hobbs commented on the importance of his team’s win in reaching its goals for the month of December.
“It’s definitely huge for our team morale,” Hobbs said. “One of our biggest goals is to be .500 before Christmas. Now we’re putting ourselves in a position to do that.”
The game-winning goal came from senior Doug Kublin 50 seconds into the third period. Pereira moved the puck to Hobbs behind the boards, who found Kublin just under the blue line. Kublin took the pass and threw a shot on net that was out of view of the Lowell goalie for the go-ahead score.
The goal, Kublin’s third of the season, broke a 2-2 tie after the second period, after the Minutemen jumped out to a 2-0 lead earlier in the game.
According to freshman Eric Filiou, UMass players used the second intermission to regain their focus.
“We went in the dressing room, we knew it was a [tie] game and we had 20 minutes to get back into it,” Filiou said. “We just motivated ourselves to try and get the momentum going. We went out there, got the next goal and never looked back.”
Filiou was the only freshman to find the net, scoring his first career goal in the third period. Branden Gracel extended his point streak to four games with an assist, as UMass got most of its scoring from its forwards.
Defensemen entered the game accounting for 31 of the Minutemen’s 77 points (15 goals, 16 assists) and registered three of its 15 points against the River Hawks.
With 19 seconds remaining in the second period, Lowell center Riley Wetmore knotted the score with a shot that flustered UMass goalie Paul Dainton.
Dainton shifted over for Wetmore’s shot, taking the puck off of his chest. The disc then took an odd ricochet, bouncing upwards over the head of the senior net-minder and in for a goal.
Dainton finished the afternoon with 25 saves in his 100th career game in a maroon and white uniform to even his record as a starter at 3-3-2. The Minutemen outshot the River Hawks, 36-27, including an 11-4 advantage in the first period.
“In the second period, we got ourselves into trouble by virtue of penalties,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “They were able to get in the game with a couple of goals I’m sure Paul would like to have back, but in fairness to Paul, he hadn’t seen a lot of pucks all night.”
The Minutemen took three penalties on the afternoon, all coming within a three-and-a-half minute span early in the second period, and successfully killed off one 5-on-3 power play before succumbing to another.
Freshman defenseman Joel Hanley was called for tripping two minutes and 35 seconds into the second period. With 38 seconds to go on that power play, center Kevin Czepiel also received a tripping penalty. Dainton turned away one River Hawk shot attempt during that penalty kill before freshman Adam Phillips was called for hitting from behind.
UMass wasted all but seven seconds of the power play until River Hawk senior defenseman Blair Ryan rifled a shot just inside the blue line past Dainton.
The Minutemen led 2-0 after the first period, something they have been unaccustomed to this season. UMass did not lead in a game until its fourth game of the season against Boston University, which ended in a 4-3 loss.
Against Providence and New Hampshire, Minutemen leads failed to hold up in two ties. Cahoon believes the development of his team is showing itself in many ways, but the squad’s recent success, he feels, has been due to intangibles.
“I think it’s a byproduct of playing better in a lot of different areas. The hustle, the confidence and the level of competitiveness has enabled us to move the puck; get[ting] the puck to the net has allowed us to get a few goals here and there. We have a long ways to go in a lot of areas, but I think there has been a lot of improvement in those areas as well.”
Dan Gigliotti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.