DULUTH, Minn. - Special teams played an important role, to say the least, in Friday night’s 2006-07 season opener between the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of Massachusetts – Lowell -- so much so that they figured in all six goals in a 3-3 tie.
The Bulldogs scored three times on the power play while the River Hawks had two shorthand goals and added another goal with the man advantage in a lively up-tempo contest played before a crowd of 4,048 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.
Both teams traded first-period power play goals with UMass-Lowell’s Jeremy Dehner scoring at the 8:08 mark and UMD sophomore defenseman Matt Niskanen answering with a fluttering shot from the right faceoff circle which slipped past River Hawk goaltender Carter Hutton.
With his teammate Kory Falite sitting out a minor for elbowing, Jason Techma put the River Hawks back up by one midway through the second period on a breakaway goal off a home run pass from Dehner. It remain 2-1 until 7:42 into the third period when senior defenseman Ryan Geris, who has missed the better part of the past three season with concussion-related problems, wristed a shot from the left point while the Bulldogs were on a 5-on-3 power play. After the River Hawks responded 37 later with their second shorthanded score of the night, sophomore center MacGregor Sharp redirected a Niskanen shot past Carter at 10:49 to round out the scoring.
“They had a great transition game and their forwards were quick,” said Geris. “We spent a lot of time killing penalties tonight, but that seems to be expected in a first game like this.”
Rookie Alex Stalock finished with 24 saves, including 11 in the first period when both teams combined for 31 shots on goal while Carter had 38 saves, 10 of which were registered in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“When Lowell got that second goal we had a let down,” said UMD head coach Scott Sandelin, whose team was three-of-seven on the power play. “We have to work on responding better with productive shifts in those situations.
I thought we had a good first period. We had some scoring opportunities, but their goalie came up big and they made the plays when they had to.”
UMass-Lowell, which converted just one of their eight power play chances on the night, are now winless in seven of its nine lifetime games with UMD.
The two teams will close out their two-game non-conference series Saturday night.