LOWELL, Mass. (October 12, 2013) - On paper, the UMass Lowell River Hawks (0-2, 0-0 Hockey East) and University of Massachusetts Minutemen (1-1-0, 0-1-0 Hockey East) both play in the Hockey East Conference, but the two squared off tonight in a non-conference game to keep the Alumni Cup competition between the two schools alive. UMass Lowell topped the visiting Minutemen 5-2 at the Tsongas Center.
"We play for something called the Alumni Cup every year, and you can't play for it if you don't have a deciding contest," River Hawks Head Coach Norm Bazin said. "I'm not a huge fan of shootouts so game one tonight is a "non-conference" game and the other two will count in the league points."
For the River Hawks, tonight's game was less about gaining the edge in the Alumni Cup race as it was about putting together a complete game after the team's season-opening lost to Sacred Heart.
"I think overall as a team, we really wanted a big effort tonight," said River Hawks goaltender Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) "It was a good 60-minute win for us. We played hard. It was a good win."
The River Hawks got on the board first when Ryan McGrath (O'Fallon, Mo.) snapped the puck past UMass' goaltender Steve Mastalerz at 16:28 of the first period. Senior forward Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) picked up his second goal of the young season, scoring UMass Lowell's first powerplay goal of the season at 17:21 of the 2nd to give the River Hawks a 2-0 lead.
UMass cut the lead in half when Branden Grace deflected in a shot from the right point into the net at 4:53 of the 3rd period. The River Hawks battled regained their two-goal lead when defenseman Joe Houk (Richboro, Pa.), trailing the odd man rush, picked up the rebound of a Scott Wilson shot and drilled it into the net, his first goal with UMass Lowell. UMass continued to press, pulling within one at 13:40 but a late goal by Michael Fallon (Glenview, Ill.) and an empty-netter by Chris Maniccia (Staten Island, NY) sealed the deal for UMass Lowell, 5-2.
"We have several areas we have to keep mending, keep refining," Bazin said. "However, scoring the first goal was a big thing, good goaltending was a big deal for us, and an overall better compete level - those were the three big things for us tonight."
UMass Lowell will be back in action with 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 and finishing off in Hampden, Conn.