LOWELL, Mass. (October 11, 2013) - The UMass Lowell River Hawks (0-1, 0-0 Hockey East) entered their home opener on a high, raising their 2013 Hockey East and Frozen Four banners in spectacular fashion before facing the Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-0, 0-0 AHA). Sacred Heart, who are coming off a 2-30-4 season in 2012-13, shocked the River Hawks, picking up the 2-1 win at the Tsongas Center and their first-ever win against a Hockey East opponent (1-9-1).
The Pioneers struck first, quieting the raucous crowd still waiting for the smoke to clear from the pregame fireworks. Jr. right wing Drew George picked up his first of the night at 3:48 of the first. With freshman forward Evan Campbell (Coquitlam, BC) in the box for slashing, David Iacono fired a slap pass from the right point to George at the left edge of the net who deflected it past Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce, Mich.) to put the underdogs up 1-0.
After missed opportunities in the 2nd period, including a stellar save by Alex Vazzano on Joe Gambardella (Staten Island, NY), it would take the River Hawks until the 3rd period to find the back of the net. Michael Kapla (Eau Claire, Wisc.) corralled the puck at the left point and snapped the puck into a crowd in the slot, deflecting the puck off the skate of teammate Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) to even the score at 1-1.
Sacred Heart responded just 1:25 later, silencing the crowd as Pioneers' center Ben Lake won the face off cleanly to Drew George at the inside edge of the right faceoff circle. George snapped the puck to the inside edge of the left post, just out of Hellebuyck's reach for the 2-1 lead.
Vazzano, a redshirt sophomore who transferred from the University of Vermont, finished the night with 35 saves while Hellebuyck surrendered a pair of goals on 25 shots.
"With the banner raising maybe it's human nature to feel that it's going to be easy," said River Hawks Head Coach Norm Bazin. "We certainly didn't come out with the same compete level that we should have. We don't have any excuses for tonight, and we're not going to make any up. We didn't play as well as we needed to play, and we have to play better."
UMass Lowell will be back in action tomorrow night, taking on Hockey East rival the University of Massachusetts at 7 PM. The team will play a home-and-home series with 2012-13 powerhouse Quinnipiac next weekend, starting the set at home on Friday, October 18 at 7:15 PM. Season tickets, tickets and mini packs for hockey are now available and can be purchased online at TsongasCenter.com or by contacting Andrew Ralph (firstname.lastname@example.org; 978-934-5749 ) or Joe Fellini (email@example.com; 978-934-5751).