AMHERST, Mass. - No. 2 University of Massachusetts hockey controlled play for the majority of the contest, but an opportunistic UMass Lowell squad managed to edge the Minutemen, 2-1 at the Mullins Center on Friday night. The loss leaves UMass at 14-3-0 overall and 7-1-0 in Hockey East play, while the River Hawks improve to 9-8-1 and 5-4-1 in league action.
"It was one of those nights, a tight game." said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "I wasn't unhappy with the way we played. I think the difference in the game was Lowell did a better job getting to the net. We weren't at the net enough. The one goal we scored, we did a good job with a guy screening the goalie and another guy going to the net hard. You could see we've been on break for a while. We had some guys missing half a step out there, complete level wasn't quite good enough and UMass Lowell makes you compete. They played a good road game, but we still played well enough to win. It was just one of those games that could have gone either way and unfortunately it didn't go our way tonight."
UMass Lowell capitalized on a Minutemen turnover to take a 1-0 lead in the first as Reid Stefanson was able to skate in alone and tuck the puck behind Matt Murray at the 7:50 mark.
The River Hawks then expanded their advantage to 2-0 in the opening minutes of the second. Chris Schutz and Nick Master fed Connor Wilson in the high slot and Wilson found the top left corner for the tally 2:52 into the stanza.
UMass took one of the goals back to close the gap to one at the 7:20 mark of the second. Junior Niko Hildenbrand crashed the net and redirected in a Colin Felix shot for his second of the season. Sophomore George Mika earned an assist on the play, as well.
The Minutemen controlled the action in the third, out-shooting UMass Lowell 12-4 in the stanza, but were unable to net the equalizer.
UMass finished the night with a 34-21 shot advantage and went 0-for-2 on the power play while the River Hawks were 0-for-1.
Murray made 19 saves and suffered his first setback of the season (11-1-0) and Chris Hernberg stopped 33 shots for UMass Lowell to improve to 4-2-0.
The Minutemen will have a quick turnaround, back in action tomorrow, January 5, facing American International on the road in Springfield at 2 p.m.