BURLINGTON, Vt. - Scott Wilson broke a 1-1 tie when he rifled home a wrist shot late in the third period to send UMass Lowell to a 3-1 victory over Clarkson in a battle of nationally ranked teams in the second round of the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup, Sunday, in Burlington, Vermont.
"I'm very proud of the guys and how they hung in there," said Head Coach Norm Bazin. "I was happy with the defense, happy with the offense, we had our courage and we had some jump."
It was UMass Lowell's second win during the tournament weekend, but it did not give the River Hawks the Catamount Cup title. That went to the host school, Vermont, who also won two games and took the title based on the second tiebreaker; total goals (9-8). UMass Lowell defeated Canisius, 5-2, in the tournament opener.
With the win the 10th ranked River Hawks improve to 13-5-0, they have won 11 of their last 13. Clarkson ranked 9th in the country falls to 12-5-1.
It was a high intensity hockey battle between two terrific clubs. Such games are often decided by a player stepping up with a big play at a key moment. In this case it was Wilson.
The junior forward from Oakville, Ont. gave UMass Lowell a lead it would not relinquish with less than six minutes to play when he skated into the Clarkson zone, on the right wing, cut back against the grain to the slot and drilled a wrist shot above the goalie's glove and beneath the crossbar. The goal came at the 14:21 mark of the third period.
"I'd had a couple of chances, earlier, coming down the wing, but had been frustrated by their defensemen and couldn't get shots off," said Wilson. "This time, I tried to cut to the middle and let one go and luckily it beat (the goalie's) arm."
The Wilson marker was also made possible by a terrific pass from junior defenseman Zack Kamrass (Atlanta, Ga.) that sprung his teammate free.
The goal was the second of the night for the UMass Lowell power play. The River Hawks have scored power play goals in 12 of their last 14 games and is 19-for-56 (33.9%) over that period.
UMass Lowell never trailed in the contest.
After a scoreless opening 20-minutes, the River Hawks got on the board when senior captain Josh Holmstrom (Colorado Springs, Colo.) found the back of the net with a wrist shot from the slot as he was going down to one knee.
Sophomores Ryan McGrath (O'Fallon, Mo.) and A. J. White (Dearborn, Mich.) picked up assists.
The lead held until the opening minute of the third period. Clarkson tied the game on a Ben Sexton power play goal 38-seconds into the period.
"The biggest thing for us is, if they get a goal, we got to stay up on the bench because we need to come right back with one," said Wilson. "The bench energy has been great all season."
The Clarkson goal did not shake the River Hawk composure. The team played with poise and confidence. The Wilson gave UMass Lowell the lead and then freshman Evan Campbell (Port Coquitlam, B. C.) provided the insurance.
The goal, the first of Campbell's collegiate career, came with just 62-seconds on the clock and Clarkson frantically trying to get goalie Greg Lewis off the ice for an extra attacker.
Lewis was caught halfway to the bench. He blocked a senior Shayne Thompson (Stittsville, Ont.) shot as he scrambled toward the Clarkson net, but was left helpless when Campbell picked up the rebound a fired it home.
Thompson and Kamrass picked up assists. It was Kamrass' fifth assist during the weekend.
Reflecting the play on the ice, UMass Lowell outshot Clarkson, 34-19. River Hawk senior goaltender Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) made 18 saves.
"Carr played a hell of a hockey game," said Bazin.
The numbers weren't dramatic, but Carr made several big saves with the game on the line.
The two teams will not be strangers. UMass Lowell and Clarkson will meet twice next weekend in Lowell.