No. 13/14 River Hawks Stun No. 7/8 UConn 3-2 in OT


LOWELL, Mass.—Two goals from senior Carl Berglund (Hammaro, Sweden) netted a surprise 3-2 in overtime for the No. 13/14 UMass Lowell men’s hockey team (8-4-0, 5-2-0 Hockey East) against No. 7/8 Connecticut (9-2-3, 6-2-2 HEA) in front of a bustling crowd of 4,208 at the Tsongas Center on Friday night.

“We are obviously very satisfied with the results. I think it was a very good hockey game for both teams. It was very equal. There seemed to be a response every time we scored,” commented the head coach. Norm Bazin. “There are a few points to work on. Obviously we had a few power play attempts here, I thought we were seconds away from getting a few looks. I think we scored when the power play had just ended. Overall, I thought the goalkeeper was strong and the depth of the bench was tested today. »

Behind Berglund’s team-record two points, seven other River Hawks had points against the Huskies. Senior Jake Stella (Karlstad, Sweden) scored the first goal of the night just 58 seconds into the game against assists from defenders Jon McDonald (Livonia, Michigan) and Marek Korencik (Zilina, Slovakia). Graduate student Filip Fornåå Svensson (Linköping, Sweden) and senior Brian Chambers (Weymouth, Mass.) had assists on Berglund’s second-half goal, while defender Isac Jonsson (Ängelholm, Sweden) and senior Zach Kaiser (Orangeville, Ont.) scored his assists on the Swedish forward’s overtime winner. With a credit on the sudden death lamplighter, Kaiser extended his current point streak to four straight games.

Between the posts, Gustavs graduate student David Grigals (Riga, Latvia) stopped a season-high 34 shots to earn the win and move to a 3-2-0 season.

Stella sparked UMass Lowell’s offense in the first minute. After regaining possession after a UConn substitution in the River Hawks’ defensive zone, Korencik sent the puck to McDonald behind the net. McDonald pushed an extended pass through both blue lines to Stella sitting just behind the Huskies defense. The elder got ahead of his man and struck the first of the night to put the River Hawks on the right side of the scoresheet.

Defensive duel, the rest of the period was marked by a back and forth for possession. Grigals remained intact in the first, overturning all 14 chances for the Huskies in the first quarter. The Latvian-born keeper reacted quickly between the posts to deny UConn’s second touch, especially on the cross pass.

Kaiser considered extending his active point streak early on. Cole sent a perfectly placed cross to Kaiser, who landed a hard right leg kick from UConn’s Logan Terness into the empty ice. Sophomore Matt Crasa (South Setauket, NY) followed Kaiser’s firm chance from the point with a zinger in the slot, but Terness gloved the shot.

After a two-point night at Boston College earlier in the week, sophomore Owen Cole (Dunnville, Ont.) forced a turnover and went for the breakaway. However, Cole couldn’t shake his fast advancing defender, who stretched for the poke check to snuff out the potential goalscoring opportunity. UMass Lowell pressed hard in the area to try to extend their lead before the break, but the River Hawks headed into the break holding the one-goal advantage.

The River Hawks offense remained hot after the first tie in the second. Freshman Owen Fowler (Tewksbury, Mass.) chased a loose puck early and attempted the lap on a stretch, but couldn’t find any free space. Kaiser tested Terness with back-to-back attempts off the pad, but both shots were ultimately deflected by the Huskies defense.

In his first game since the River Hawks’ 2-0 win over Vermont, Fornåå Svensson put a wrist on the net on a power play by UMass Lowell who missed just left and hit the pipe to stop the ‘attacker.

Four minutes into the period, UConn tied the score at 1-1 thanks to a shot from Chase Bradley. Minutes later, Berglund ended his two-game drought with a one-timer in the slot. Chambers pressed his man along the boards and tapped a lucky touch on Fornåå Svensson just behind the net. The winger tapped in a slot-crossing pass to Berglund for the quick shot to reclaim a 2-1 lead with just under 13 minutes left in the frame.

UConn forced another tie with just under three minutes left in the second period. Huskies center Tristan Fraser won the faceoff just to the right of Grigals, fending it off directly for Nick Capone. The 6-2 winger fired in a quick shot past Grigals to shut down the all-locked center block at 2-2.

Possession swung back and forth throughout the third as the teams chased a winner. The Huskies and River Hawks went neck and neck in both game wins and shots on goal for the remainder of regulation, but the scoreless third forced overtime at Tsongas Center.

The Huskies nearly stole the win from the River Hawks early in the game on a two-man run, but Grigals robbed UConn of the game winner with an incredible kick on the wrap attempt. With just over a minute to spare before it went to a shootout, Berglund called the game and earned UMass Lowell two hard-earned points with a nice snipe to cement the 3-2 decision.

The River Hawks wrap up their three-game week tomorrow afternoon when they travel to the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut to close out their series with UConn. The puck drop is scheduled for 3:35 p.m.

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