(Picture via goriverhawks.com)
LOWELL, Mass. – A second period goal by junior defenseman Michael Kapla (Eau Claire, Wis.) helped the No. 7 UMass Lowell hockey team bounce back and earn a 1-1 decision against No. 19 Merrimack on Saturday night at the Tsongas Center in front of 6,104 fans.
“We were treated to a great hockey game tonight,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin. “Both teams came out and had some urgency to the game for a second night. I liked our penalty kill tonight. I felt the five-on-three was a very good turning point for us, it was a huge kill. We started to generate some offense in the third period, and in the overtime I felt we had it, but time just ran out.”
The River Hawks saw a chance to give themselves the lead at 10:25 into the opening period, finding themselves on a power play opportunity after Brett Seney was sent to the box for high sticking. The Warriors’ penalty kill unit came out strong as they denied the home team of a shot, leaving the score 0-0.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first period, senior goaltender Kevin Boyle (Manalapan, N.J.) made terrific back-to-back saves helping to keep a clean sheet throughout the first 20 minutes.
Merrimack opened up the scoring at 13:45 in the second period when forward Brian Christie tipped in a shot by defenseman Jonathan Lashyn, who had fired a slap shot from the blue line, giving the visitors the 1-0 lead.
UMass Lowell did not trail for long, thanks to a goal by Kapla to knot the scored, 1-1. Junior forward Joe Gambardella (Staten Island, N.Y.) connected with Kapla to one time the puck into the net for his first goal of the season.
Despite Merrimack having the upper hand in shots in the second period, 15-7, Boyle posted 14 saves to help his team remain tied going into the third period.
Senior forward Adam Chapie (Oxford, Mich.) looked to break the 1-1 tie with less than seven minutes to play in the third period. Chapie flicked a shot high on the net, but goaltender Collin Delia got his glove on it to make the save and deny Chapie of his opportunity.
The River Hawks continue to be perfect on the penalty kill, going 2-for-2 on the night and improving to 16-for-16 overall. The team could not convert on the other side of the puck, though, going 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
The home team had the 34-19 advantage in faceoffs, but was outshot by its opponent, 23-18.
Boyle posted 22 saves in the outing, including three in overtime. Boyle improves to 3-0-2 on the season.
Saturday’s contest marked the 122nd meeting between UMass Lowell and Merrimack in the sport of men’s ice hockey. The River Hawks hold a strong 75-37-11 advantage in the all-time series. The squad is back in action on Friday, October 30 to begin their four-game road trip against Minnesota-Duluth at 8 p.m.