LOWELL, Mass. - Freshmen Michael Colantone (Cave Creek, Ariz.) and Ryan McGrath (O'Fallon, Mo.) each scored goals and freshman G Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) earned his first collegiate shutout as UMass Lowell defeated Northeastern, 2-0, Saturday night in front of 4,784 at the Tsongas Center.
With the win, UMass Lowell improved to 5-7-1 overall and 3-6-1 in Hockey East pulling into an eighth place tie with Northeastern entering Monday's non-conference clash at Harvard (7:00).
Northeastern slipped to 5-9-1 overall and 3-6-1 in Hockey East. The Huskies are off until they visit Harvard on December 29.
UMass Lowell nearly opened the scoring 15:28 into the first period when junior Chad Ruhwedel (San Diego, Calif.) broke free down the right side and rung the short side post with a wrist shot.
The River Hawks broke the scoreless spell late in the second period. Colantone snapped a wrist shot waist high just inside the left post beating Northeastern netminder Chris Rawlings to the stick side at the 17:56 mark. The goal was set up by F Derek Arnold (Foxboro, Mass.) whose centering pass deflected off McGrath's stick to Colantone in the slot.
"Arnie came around the net and made a good play," said Colantone. "I just buried it."
It was Colantone's fourth goal of the season, his third in his last four games. Arnold and McGrath picked up assists.
"(Colantone) goes to the hard areas," says UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin. "He's not afraid to go to the front of the net."
Earlier in the period Colantone nearly put UMass Lowell ahead when he took a cross-ice pass from sophomore F Terrence Wallin (Yardley, Pa.) and let fly, but Rawlings read it well and smothered the attempt.
The River Hawks got all the insurance they needed early in the third period when McGrath finished off a tri-cornered passing play with a hard wrist shot from the inside edge of the right circle at the 6:57 mark.
It was McGrath's second goal of the season. Riley Wetmore and Scott Wilson picked up assists. The assist extended Wilson's scoring streak to five games (1-9-10). Hellebuyck kicked out 25 shots in the game to record the first shutout of his career and his first Hockey East win.
His biggest stops came early in the third period with UMass Lowell protecting a 1-0 lead. The goaltender got a piece of a Vinnie Saponari backhander, deflecting the puck harmlessly out of play, when it seemed that Hellebuyck was down and out. Later he got his right shoulder in the way of freshman forward Kevin Roy's drive through a screen from the slot.
"He certainly stood tall at crucial times for us," said Bazin. "He didn't face a whole bunch of shots in the first and second periods. It's a difficult game to stay focused in, but he did that well."
Hellebuyck stopped 15 third period shots after facing just ten during the first 40 minutes.