Freshman Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) scored a goal and two assists to lead the ninth-ranked River Hawks past Vermont, 6-4, on Saturday night in front of 5,125 fans in the Tsongas Center, live on the New England Sports Network (NESN).
The victory marked UMass Lowell's (18-7-0, 13-6-0 Hockey East) ninth consecutive at home, tying the longest home winning streak in Tsongas Center history. The Catamounts dropped to 5-21-1 overall this season and 2-17-1 in conference play.
The game started with a bang as the River Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of long-distance strikes from Chad Ruhwedel (San Diego, Calif.) and Terrence Wallin (Yardley, Pa.) in the first six minutes.
Ruhwedel snagged a clearing attempt by Vermont and ripped a shot from the top of the far circle for his third goal of the season at 5:04. Wallin followed with a slap shot from neutral ice that seared past Alex Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) for his seventh tally of the year at 6:00. The two scores chased Vazzano for the night, bringing in veteran Rob Madore (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
The goalie change sparked the Catamounts, who managed to cut the lead at 12:39 with a backdoor power play goal from Sebastian Stalberg (Gothenburg, Sweden).
The teams then traded tallies before the period closed out with a 3-2 River Hawk lead. Wilson scored his 13th goal of the season from Riley Wetmore (Swanton, Vt.) at 13:51, followed by a strike from Vermont's Kyle Reynolds (Sylvan Lake, Alta.) at 19:20.
UMass Lowell dominated the second period, scoring twice to take a 5-2 advantage. Derek Arnold (Foxboro, Mass.) finished off a frenzy at the net early in the period, then Colin Wright (Burlington, Ont.) deflected in a Wilson shot following a faceoff at 10:48.
The third period appeared to be grinding towards the finish, but a series of penalties by the River Hawks gave Vermont new life. The Catamounts scored a pair of extra attacker goal in the final two minutes to cut the lead to one.
Reynolds hit Stalberg on the weak-side at 18:21 during a five-on-three for his 11th goal of the season. Less than a minute later, Nick Bruneteau (Omaha, Neb.) and Stalberg found Matt White (McMurray, Pa.) for the finish at the net to put the game in jeopardy.
With the pressure back on, Wilson picked off a Vermont centering pass and found Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in neutral ice for the empty net tally with 31 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
Goaltender Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) improved his nation-leading record to 17-4-0 on the season, making 20 saves in the win. Vazzano stopped 3-of-5 shots before Madore stepped in to turn away 20-of-23 shots and fall to 4-15-1 on the campaign.
The River Hawks have a daunting weekend ahead of them, hosting nationally ranked opponents Merrimack and Maine in the Tsongas Center on Feb. 10-11. The Catamounts have just one game, hosting Boston College on Friday at 7:30 p.m.