Entering Friday night’s season opener, the UMass Lowell River Hawks were the team to beat as the No. 1 ranked team in the country and the Sacred Heart Pioneers did just that. The Pioneers upset the River Hawks, 2-1, taking down a team who no one thought they could beat.
Friday night was not the night UMass Lowell was expecting, on a night they unveiled their 2012-13 Hockey East regular season and tournament championship banners, they fall to a team who had only one two games in the previous season.
The River Hawks failed to take advantage of the power play, going 0-for-5 with 11 shots, while the Pioneers were able to score a goal on only four opportunities. The advantage on the special teams was enough to put the Pioneers past the River Hawks.
“Overall when you give up a face-off, you give up a penalty kill goal against and you go 0-for-5 on the power play, you don’t deserve to win,” said UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin. “Plain and simple, I commend [Sacred Hear] in their effort.”
The Pioneers entered Friday night’s game with nothing to lose, after going 2-30-4 a season ago, a loss in this game wouldn’t have stung all that much. “The game is played on the ice,” said Bazin. “Obviously, we could stand to improve in a lot of areas.”
Both Pioneers goals were scored by junior forward Drew George, one in the first period and again in the third period. The lone goal scorer for the River Hawks was Joseph Pendenza, which was assisted by freshmen defenseman Michael Kapla.
If the River Hawks wanted to keep their heads up heading into the rest of the season, a win on Saturday night will go a long way. Coach Bazin will work with his team to fix the issues that were there downfall tonight and get back to it on Saturday night.
The River Hawks will battle in-state rival the Massachusetts Minutemen. This, their first meeting of the 2013-14 season is a non-conference game, but will count towards the annual alumni cup, which has been played since 1994-95. UMass Lowell is 12-6-1 in the yearly cup, while holding a record of 31-20-6 overall against Massachusetts. The puck is set to drop at 7:00 p.m. eastern at the Tsongas Center.