NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- On Saturday night at J. Thom Lawler Arena, the No. 8 UMass Lowell River Hawks (18-7-2, 9-4-1 Hockey East) finished off a weekend sweep of their Valley rival Merrimack College Warriors (7-16-3, 2-10-2) with an impressive 4-0 win.
Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck turned aside all 33 shots he faced in his, and the team’s, fourth shutout of the season. It was his first blanking since Nov. 22, 2013 against Notre Dame and brought him within one of tying Carter Hutton for tops in the River Hawks’ career record books.
“I thought we got contributions throughout our lineup tonight, and several key goals,” River Hawk head coach Norm Bazin said. “We had solid goaltending (from Hellebuyck) and scored a power-play goal, so we had a lot of things to be pleased with.”
Ironically, the last time Merrimack - which held the better of the offensive play in all three periods of the game for a 33-24 shots advantage - was shut down offensively came one night later, Nov. 23 at Northeastern.
At the 11:51 mark of the first period, UML sophomore Adam Chapie was hooked down from behind on a partial break, earning himself the River Hawks’ first penalty shot in just over a year which he proceeded to deposit into the upper glove-side corner of the net past Merrimack senior Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) for the game’s first goal.
Interestingly enough, the goal - which allowed UML to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission - marked the River Hawks’ on a penalty shot since Doug Nolan beat Northeastern on Dec. 5, 1996 at Matthews Arena.
“Really, I just wanted to hit the net,” Chapie said of what he remembers as his first penalty shot since playing juniors for the NAHL’s New Mexico Mustangs. “My original thought was to go blocker side, but the goaltender did a great job taking it away. It was kind of a last-minute decision to shoot glove side, so I’m glad I hit the post and in.”
The River Hawks continued their dominant play with two goals in the second period to take command by a 3-0 score after 40 minutes.
Just 40 seconds in, senior assistant captain Shayne Thompson took a feed from freshman back line partner Michael Kapla in the right circle for a solid wrist shot and his first goal of the season. At 15:18, UML went up by a 3-0 count as freshman Chris Maniccia redirected Dylan Zink’s point shot by Marotta from between the circles.
For the third consecutive game, freshman Evan Campbell found the back of the net to give UML a 4-0 lead 14:12 into the final stanza. His initial shot clanked off the crossbar behind Marotta and bounced down and over the goal line.
The Warriors’ nine-shot differential was built thanks to 8-5 and 11-6 margins in the first and third, respectively, but the River Hawks scored in each of the six periods on the weekend for the win.
“It’s a game of inches,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “They were on the right side of those inches four times. … I thought we were the better team for large stretches. They scored four goals and we didn’t.”
New Hampshire 5, Notre Dame 2
Junior Matt Willows scored a goal and two assists to propel the Wildcats (16-13-1, 8-6-0 Hockey East) to an impressive weekend sweep of the No. 14 Fighting Irish (15-11-1, 4-8-1) on home ice at Whittemore Center Arena in Durham. UNH received contributions from five different goal scorers while 11 recorded points in total. Junior Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) recorded 32 saves.
Cornell 2, Brown 1
Bears (9-9-3, 6-7-1 ECAC Hockey) sophomore Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.) scored with 1:51 left in regulation, but the boys from Meehan Auditorium did not have more magic left as they suffered a narrow defeat to the rival and No. 11-ranked Big Red (12-4-5, 8-3-4). Freshman Tyler Steel hung tough with an 18-save effort, despite falling to 7-4-3.
Dartmouth 5, Princeton 3
In front of a sold-out crowd at Thompson Arena, the Big Green (4-15-3, 3-11-1 ECAC Hockey) used a two-goal effort from junior Jesse Beamish and three assists from Charlie Mosey to down the Tigers (4-17-0, 3-11-0) in their final game before hitting the road for two consecutive weekends in league play. Second-year James Kruger picked up his first win at Dartmouth, making 17 saves.
Yale 4, Colgate 1
Four different Bulldogs (11-6-4, 6-5-3 ECAC Hockey) scored goals and senior Kenny Agostino assisted on two of them as the 13th-ranked team in the nation bounced back for a solid Saturday victory. Freshman Alex Lyon continued his stellar rookie play with 30 saves on the Raiders' (13-11-3, 9-4-1) shots and was helped by a penalty kill that was 6-for-7 on the night.
American International 5, Canisius 3
The Yellow Jackets (8-18-1, 7-12-1 Atlantic Hockey) scored twice in each of the first two periods to down the Golden Griffins (10-15-2, 9-9-2) in the back half of a weekend set at Olympia Ice Center. Freshman Daniel Clairmont scored twice for the victors, including the game-winner halfway through regulation.
Air Force 3, Connecticut 1
Junior Ryan Tyson scored a goal in the third period to break a shutout bid, but the Huskies (13-8-4, 11-5-3 Atlantic Hockey) suffered defeat at Cadet Ice Arena in the second game of a weekend series with the Falcons (15-9-4, 10-6-3). Senior Matt Grogan made 26 saves in goal for UConn.
Mercyhurst 4, Bentley 1
A three-goal outburst in the third period propelled the host Lakers (15-10-5, 13-2-4 Atlantic Hockey) to a three-point weekend and a two-win lead over the Falcons (13-9-4, 11-4-4) for first place in the AHA. Junior Alex Grieve was the lone goal scorer for Bentley.
Holy Cross 4, RIT 2
Senior assistant captain Adam Schmidt scored two goals and posted his 100th-career point as the Crusaders (7-16-3, 6-10-3 Atlantic Hockey) doubled up the host Tigers (8-14-4, 7-10-2) at Ritter Arena, finishing the weekend with three points in the league race. Schmidt is the 41st player in Holy Cross history to hit the century marker and the 11th in the Division I era. Freshman Mike Barrett's game-winner marked the first of his career, with 4:19 left in the third period.
Niagara 4, Sacred Heart 1
Sophomore defenseman Jacob Brightbill scored his first-collegiate goal in the third period and junior goalie Andrew Bodnarchuk made 31 saves in goal, but the Pioneers (7-19-0, 6-13-0 Atlantic Hockey) had to a settle for a weekend split at Milford Ice Pavilion.