March 13, 2015
LOWELL, Mass. – Since joining Hockey East last year, the Notre Dame hockey team is 4-1 when facing elimination from the Hockey East tournament. The Irish will have a chance to improve that record even further on Saturday night after falling to No. 14 UMass Lowell, 5-0, in game one of a best-of-three quarterfinal series on Friday night at the Tsongas Center.
Five different River Hawks (19-10-6) scored in a game where the Irish (17-18-5) suffered their worst shutout loss since a 5-0 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Minnesota on Nov. 7. Kevin Boyle made 21 saves in the River Hawk net to earn a shutout in his 16th victory of the season.
Game two will be played at 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday in Lowell. The Irish won a pair of games last weekend when facing elimination, beating Massachusetts, 5-3 and 7-0 in a first round best-of three series after losing the opener, 4-3, in quintuple overtime.
“We have no choice (but to put it behind us),” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said afterwards. “It’s no different than losing in five overtimes. It’s all the same. We have to be ready and much better prepared by tomorrow night. You have to give Lowell credit. They were energized. They had (last) week off to help them. They were ready to play right at the get-go.”
A recent trend for the Irish had been starting out fast. Notre Dame yielded just three first period goals in its last nine games entering tonight, but the River Hawks would score three goals before the first period was over on Friday night. UMass Lowell capitalized on a bad bounce off of an Irish defenseman to score just 1:02 into the contest as C.J. Smith got a good whack at a bouncing puck and swatted it past Cal Petersen for his 15th goal of the year.
The River Hawks made the score 2-0 at 8:12 when Terrence Wallin scored on a rebound and later extended its lead to 3-0 when Evan Campbell tipped home a point shot from Robert Francis. The only other three-goal first period against the Irish this season came at the hands of No. 1 Minnesota on Nov. 9, 2104 at the Golden Gophers’ Mariucci Arena.
UMass Lowell would score twice early in the second period to extend its leads to 5-0. The River Hawks exerted significant pressure down low at 1:41 and it resulted in a goal when Smith slid a pass across the top of the crease to an open Joe Gambardella. Just over a minute later, A.J. White stole the puck in the neutral zone and raced to the net for an unassisted goal at 2:46.
With the ultimate result not significantly in doubt, the Irish rested Petersen during the third period after making 17 saves through the first two frames. Chad Katunar did not allow a goal in that final stanza, making seven saves.