Weekend Recap: Sweep of Merrimack

#12/10 Massachusetts-Lowell (21-9-2, 15-8-2 HE)
vs #17 Merrimack College (14-14-6, 12-10-3 HE)

UML_MCWhen: Friday, March 1st at 7:00pm EST
Place: Tsongas Center, Lowell, MA
Final Score: UMass-Lowell 4, Merrimack College 0

Three Stars of the Game:
1 - Connor Hellebuyck, G, UML (31 saves, SO Win)
2 – Derek Arnold, F, UML (2 goals, +2)
3 - Adam Chapie, F, UML (GWG, +1)

Box Score | Photo Gallery | Post Game Reactions

“UMass-Lowell Shuts Out Merrimack”
LOWELL, Mass. — UMass-Lowell shut out Merrimack College, 4-0, Friday night at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass. The win for the River Hawks evens the season series at 1-1-0. With the win, UMass-Lowell remains tied, with Boston College, for first place in the Hockey East standings with only three games remaining. The River Hawks victory jumped them up to fourth in the Pairwise rankings, tied with New Hampshire and Boston College.

After an uneventful and scoreless first two periods, the River Hawks got the scoring started 5:50 into the third period. Freshman forward, Adam Chapie received a chip pass from Jake Suter, then flipped the puck past Sam Marotta of Merrimack College. Less than two minutes later, Ryan McGrath fired a shot from just inside the blue line, however Derek Arnold tipped the passed and tallied the River Hawks second goal of the game, increasing their lead to 2-0. After Mark Dennehy, Merrimack’s head coach, pulled Marotta from the net with 2:33 left in regulation, Arnold tallied his second goal of the game on another McGrath pass. Colin Wright would add another empty netter for the River Hawks, putting them up 4-0 and sealing the deal.

UMass-Lowell head coach, Norm Bazin started Connor Hellebuyck for the sixth straight game, putting to rest the question on who is the number one goaltender in Lowell. Hellebuyck stopped all 31 shots fired at him while recording his fourth shut out of the season and improving his goals against average and save percentage to 1.45 and .945 respectively.

Both the River Hawks and the Warriors failed to capitalize on special teams play on Friday night. Merrimack went 0-for-5, while UMass-Lowell went 0-for-4 while on the power play. The Warriors out-shot the River Hawks, but were unable to get anything past the UMass-Lowell defense and goaltending.

The two teams will be back at it on Sunday for the season series finale at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Mass. If UMass-Lowell wins, their chances for home ice advantage would be greatly increased, while the game is a must win for Merrimack if they want to be in the run for home ice. The game starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time on CBS Sports Network. (Originally posted for InsideHockey.com)

UML_MCWhen: Sunday, March 3rd at 4:0opm EST
Place:  Lawler Arena, North Andover, MA
Final Score: UMass-Lowell 3, Merrimack College 1

Three Stars of the Game:
1 – Josh Holmstrom, F, UML (2 Goals GWG)
2 – Joseph Pendenza, F, UML (2 Assists)
3 - Shawn Bates, F, MC (Goal)

Box Score | Post Game Reactions

“UMass-Lowell Beats Merrimack, Clinches Home Ice”
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — UMass-Lowell moves into sole position of first place in the Hockey East standings and clinches home ice advantage during the first round of the playoffs with Sunday night’s, win over Merrimack College, 3-1. This is the latest in the season, the River Hawks have sat alone in first in the Hockey East standings. The River Hawks win the season series against Merrimack, 2-1-0 and move up to a tie for fourth place in the national Pairwise rankings with New Hampshire and Boston College.

Josh Holmstrom would net the games first two goals for the River Hawks at 6:58 and 11:20 in the first period, putting the River Hawks up, 2-0. Holmstrom’s second goal was the first power play goal the Warriors have surrendered in 2013 at home, prior to the start of the game, the team was 28-for-28 at home in 2013. Holmstrom would tally seven of the teams 14 shots in the first period.

The River Hawks would push the lead to 3-0 on Greg Amlong’s first career Hockey East goal. Amlong and Pendenza skated 2-on-1 against Merrimack’s defense, when Pendenza fed a pass across and Amlong who tipped it in. Pendenza would end the game with two assists and extend his point streak to eight games. Pendenza has tallied two points in four out of the last five games and tallied points in 14 out of the last 16 games. UMass-Lowell was dominating the game and outshooting Merrimack, 24-13 heading into the third period.

Although, Merrimack forward, Shawn Bates tallied a goal 22 seconds into the third period, coming into the Sunday night’s game, UMass-Lowell was 14-0-1 when leading after two periods. Bates’ goal took away Connor Hellebuyck’s fifth career shutout, however he still managed to come away with a UMass-Lowell Division I era record 13th straight win. Following the game, Hellebuyck improved his season statistics to a 1.41 GAA and .947 save %. The third period was a ‘sketchy’ period, however the River Hawks manage to come out on top.

Merrimack’s came away with the teams fourth straight loss and sits in sixth in the Hockey East standings. In the final weekend of the year, Merrimack plays a home-and-home series against Massachusetts, while UMass-Lowell does the same against Providence College. (Originally posted for InsideHockey.com)

Justin Soderberg has covered the UMass Lowell River Hawks and Hockey East for over two years. Soderberg also contributes to Boston Bruins coverage for Inside Hockey. Follow him on twitter: @JMSoderberg