LOWELL, Mass. (November 23, 2013) - Connor Hellebuyck stopped 34 of 35 shots and the UMass Lowell River Hawks were able to put a dent in the top-ranked penalty killing unit in the country with three power play goals as #11 UMass Lowell (10-4-0, 4-1-0 Hockey East) picked up their second straight win over #6 University of Notre Dame (8-4-1, 2-3-1 Hockey East), 3-1.
Notre Dame had entered the game with the #1 ranked penalty kill, having surrendered just four power play goals and sporting a stellar 93% kill rate entering the weekend. The Fighting Irish ran into a UMass Lowell power play that has been red hot, and all four of the River Hawks' goals in the two-game series came with the man advantage.
"Special teams seemed to be the difference. It was timely - there is no question that it made a difference so we're glad that it was clicking," UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin said of the team's power play. "We tried to keep it simple. We realized full well that they were excellent on the penalty kill - any time you're ranked #1 in anything, it bodes well for you - so we were pleased we could capitalize at the right times."
And capitalize they did. One night after coming off a physical 1-0 blanking of the visiting Fighting Irish, the River Hawks made the most of the chances that they got. Stalwart defenseman Zack Kamrass (Atlanta, GA) broke the ice with a seeing eye power play goal through heavy traffic at 17:48 of the first period, with assists going to Christian Folin (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) Freshman forward Michael Kapla picked up his first collegiate career goal just 93 seconds later, also on the power play, to give the River Hawks a 2-0 lead heading into the first break.
Notre Dame cut the deficit in half as Bryan Rust got one past Hellebuyck, snapping the goalie's shutout streak at 179:21 with a power play goal. Hellebuyck entered the game with consecutive shutouts over Penn State (4-0) and Notre Dame (1-0). Pendenza would close the door on any Irish comeback attempt, scoring a power play/empty net goal at 19:13 to close out the two-game set with a River Hawks sweep.
"It was playoff-style hockey again," Bazin said. "It was a game of inches, and both teams had to earn our ice all night and make smart plays all the way up. It didn't disappoint."
UMass Lowell will be back in action Tuesday, December 3 when they host American International. Notre Dame will be take part in the Shillelagh Tournament, facing Alabama-Huntsville on November 29 and the winner of Northeastern/Western Michigan on November 30.