With the score 3-2 in favor of UMass Lowell at the conclusion of the second period Saturday night in Lowell, the Massachusetts hockey team looked to be in good hands.
UMass would start the third period with essentially a full power play on a fresh sheet of ice, giving the Minutemen an excellent opportunity to knot the game back up.
However, 1:42 into the period, UML forward Ryan Lohin scored a shorthanded goal off a hard wrist shot from the right faceoff dot, giving the River Hawks their second two-goal lead of the evening, while also handing the home team much of the momentum to start the final frame.
“We tried to reset in the locker room there and everything and tried to come back out hard in the third with a power play, and then they score a penalty kill goal,” senior Jake Horton said. “It’s tough when momentum like that kind of happens, but I think we did kind of shoot ourselves in the foot tonight. But they’re a good team down there and they know how to play well.”
UML scored four of the next five goals to bring the final score to 8-3, with Dmowksi’s marker proving to be costly for UMass (9-9-0, 3-5-0 Hockey East Association) at the Tsongas Center.
“[We] came out at the beginning of the third period on the power play and they scored a shorthanded goal, so we did a good job of hurting ourselves tonight,” Minutemen coach Greg Carvel said.
The River Hawks (12-9-0, 8-6-0 HEA) added two power play goals and a pair of empty net goals with UMass on the man-advantage, to conclude a wacky game for the Minutemen.
“They’re a very well-coached team, they know what works well for them, how to create offense, and their power play is very good,” Carvel said. “Our kids were playing hard, and I thought when it was a 2-2 game it was a lot of fun to coach, and the next thing I know it’s 6-2 and we’d given up 20 shots, so I’m scratching my head right now.”
UMass finished the night 2-for-4 on the power play, making it three straight games the Minutemen have tallied at least one goal on the man-advantage, with Mitchell Chaffee and Philip Lagunov recording the strikes.
“I mean, we didn’t really make any big changes, just a few minor tweaks and it’s just started to go,” said Lagunov of the recent success up a man. “It’s chemistry, it takes time.”
“It’s been good lately,” Carvel added about the power play. “I think we’ve scored two, one, two in our last three games, and you’re seeing that develop, and I said at the beginning of the year—I’ve got five freshmen out there. They should be playing fourth line minutes, and they’re on the power play. It’s going to take time for them to get comfortable, and now you’re seeing a kid like Oliver Chau become very comfortable out there, and Mitchell Chaffee, and [Philip Lagunov], these kids are starting now to realize that they can do it, what makes them effective, and realizing that there’s a certain way you score power play goals and we’re starting to score that way. That’s a good sign, that the power plays coming, because it was a real Achilles heel for us.”
Lagunov’s goal was his first of his career while Chaffee pocketed his seventh of the season.
“Obviously we wish we had better results but it’s something we have to learn from and grow as a team and understand that Hockey East play the rest of the way out for us is going to be a challenge,” Horton said.
Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.