NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The River Hawks offense was so good on Friday night, David Vallorani (Hamilton, Ont.) scored one of his two goals while on his belly to stun No. 13/14 Merrimack 6-4. UMass-Lowell snaps its program record 13-game losing streak with the explosive win.
The River Hawks secured crucial late season points as they keep their playoff dreams alive, improving to 3-18-2 overall and 3-14-0 in Hockey East play. The win was UMass-Lowell’s first against a ranked opponent this season. The Warriors slide to 13-5-4 on the year and 7-5-3 in conference action.
The Warriors provided the game’s ice-breaker, scoring at 11:42 into the first period. Junior Elliott Sheen (Lethbridge, Alta.) cruised into the River Hawks’ zone with speed, zeroing in on the near post. The attack drew Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) to the short-side, allowing Sheen to skate past the net and score on a back-handed warp around.
UMass Lowell got back on the horse just a few minute later, scoring with 2:15 left in the opening frame. Riley Wetmore (Swanton, Vt.) picked off a pass and tossed the puck from the far boards to Vallorani camped between the circles. Vallorani put the shot between the legs of Joe Cannata (Wakefield, Mass.) for his sixth goal of the season.
The River Hawks came out with fire in the second period and it paid off with a power play goal at 4:42 into play. Following a shot by Chad Ruhwedel (San Diego, Calif.), Maury Edwards (Rocky Rapids, Alta.) collected the puck on the goalie’s weak-side with nothing but mesh in his vision. Edwards buried the shot for his fifth tally of the season and extended his goal scoring streak to three games.
Keeping its foot on the gas, UMass-Lowell potted another power play goal with 11:18 remaining in the second. Cannata kicked out a shot by Chris Ickert (Abbotsford, B.C.), but could not stop the follow-up from Matt Ferreira (Brampton, Ont.). The score was Ferreira’s sixth of the year and granted the River Hawks a 3-1 lead.
The Warriors appeared to snap out of their slump after the pair of UMass-Lowell tallies, scoring a power play goal of their own at 10:01 into the second. Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) set up Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) for his 11 score of the season and fifth power play goal.
UMass-Lowell wouldn’t let the momentum shift that quickly and fired back with its fourth goal of the game just 17 seconds later. Michael Scheu (Buffalo, N.Y.) knocked down the puck and Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) scooped it up in front of the net, skating around an outstretched Cannata for his seventh tally of the season, reestablishing the River Hawks’ two goal lead at 4-2.
Merrimack managed to get one back before the period ended, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 power play. Da Costa ripped the puck by Carr for his second goal of the game with just 36 seconds left in the period.
The River Hawks resumed their two goal lead midway through the third. Patrick Cey (Saskatoon, Sask.) potted his second goal of the year from Wetmore at 11:23 into the final frame.
The Warriors pulled their goalie near the five minute mark and benefited from a UMass-Lowell penalty, creating a 6-on-4 for Merrimack with 3:22 left to play. Collins made the most of the chance, scoring back door with 2:33 remaining to cut the River Hawks’ lead to 5-4.
Undeterred, UMass-Lowell scored an empty net goal to ice the game with 35 second left. Cey knocked the puck to Vallorani who was taken down, but still put the puck in while sliding head first. The goal was Vallorani’s seventh of the season, second of the game and secured the 6-4 win.
Freshman goaltender Carr was solid, stopping 25-of-29 shots to improve to 3-11-1 on the season. His counterpart, Cannata, falls to 13-5-4 with the loss while making 27 saves.
The River Hawks will look to carry the good vibrations into tomorrow night when they travel to the Conte Forum to face third-ranked Boston College at 7 p.m.