Senior defenseman Joe Houk scores game-winning goal for River Hawks

Senior defenseman Joe Houk scored the game-winning goal for the River Hawks

BULRINGTON, Vt. - Joe Houk scored with 15 seconds remaining in overtime to lift seventh-ranked UMass Lowell to a 1-0 Hockey East victory over 17th-ranked Vermont on Friday night at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Catamounts fall to 17-12-3 (9-10-0 HEA), while the River Hawks improve to 21-8-4 (11-5-3 HEA).

Brody Hoffman stopped 29 shots and made a highlight reel save near the end of regulation on Derek Arnold to keep the game scoreless at the time. Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves in the UMass Lowell net for the shutout victory.

Vermont will host a home playoff game next Friday (Mar. 7) in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. The Catamounts can finish the regular season in sixth, seventh, or eighth place. Game and ticket information will be released later this weekend at UVMathletics.com.

Hoffman made eight saves in a scoreless period as UVM killed off UMass Lowell's only power play. Early in the second, the sophomore made a sprawling left pad save at the right doorstep near the tail of end the River Hawks' second power play.

Vermont threatened on its only man advantage of the frame at the midway point of the game but Hellebuyck held strong for Lowell. Mario Puskarich had the best look but fanned on a rebound at the top of the crease. UVM had the final seven shots of the second period, holding UML without a shot for nine minutes, and took an 18-17 edge into the final frame.

With under a minute to go in regulation, Arnold collected a loose puck in the low slot with an open net. Hoffman came across the goalmouth and dove across the crease for a spectacular left pad save to preserve the scoreless deadlock.

The Catamounts pressed for the winner in overtime when Chris McCarthy centered a pass to the right doorstep, but Nick Bruneteau couldn't connect with two minutes left. The River Hawks skated in transition in the closing seconds as Chris Maniccia had a shot deflected in the left circle. The puck found the stick of Houk, who buried a high shot into the upper right corner to win the game.

Vermont and UMass conclude their two-game series on Saturday (Mar. 1) at 7:05 p.m. as the Catamounts hold Senior Night in the regular season finale. Pre-game radio coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on WVMT 620-AM and SportsJuice.com, and live high definition video is available for free via CatamounTV.com.

Before Saturday's game, Vermont will host its Senior Night ceremony at approximately 6:50 p.m. at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The ceremony will honor Connor Brickley, Nick Bruneteau, Anthony DeCenzo, H.T. Lenz, Pete Massar, Chris McCarthy, and Matt White, along with assistant director of hockey operations Ryan Jordan.

USA Hockey Weekend continues on Saturday night as fans are encouraged to wear their favorite Vermont jersey to the game. The Hockey East TD Bank Road to the Garden campaign comes to Gutterson tomorrow, giving fans a chance to see the Lamoriello Trophy.