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March 22, 2009 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Lowell's Run Comes Up a Goal Short

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer

BOSTON — Massachusetts-Lowell didn’t make it easy for Boston University.

If the River Hawks proved one thing in the Hockey East final, it’s that despite the loss, they're here to stay.

A mere 24 months after the program appeared to be on the chopping block, Lowell emerged to the Hockey East title game for the first time in 15 years. Playing the role of Cinderella as the fifth seed, the River Hawks swept fourth-seeded (and NCAA tournament bound) Vermont in the quarterfinals as well as sending Northeastern, another NCAA tournament team, packing in Friday night's semifinal.

But the ride ended abruptly at the TD Banknorth Garden, with the River Hawks falling to Boston University 1-0, as the Terriers hoisted their banner to the Garden rafters for the sixth time.

"I'm proud of my team," said UML head coach Blaise MacDonald. "We went toe-to-toe with BU, who is one of, if not the best team in the country. Honestly, I truly believe that we deserve a better fate."

BU scored the lone goal of the game with 1:22 left in the first period after Brandon Yip hammered a John McCarthy rebound passed a sprawling Nevin Hamilton.

Lowell scored what looked to be the game-tying goal at the 10:38 mark of the second period, when Ben Holmstrom found a loose puck dribbling out of a scrum and buried a shot into the twine, but after a lengthy review, the goal was called back due to the official's whistle blowing before the puck crossed the line.

When asked his thoughts on whether the whistle blew before the goal, MacDonald emphatically answered, "No."

"We heard a whistle, but not before the goal went in," he continued.

BU head coach Jack Parker feels fortunate to come out with the Lou Lamoriello trophy. The Terriers, who look as if they'll be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, had to scratch and claw their way to victory against the River Hawks in each meeting. BU won the season series 4-0, including last night's victory.

"It's the fourth time we've beaten them, and it's the fourth time I thought they deserved to win," said Parker. "When you control the game territorially, you deserve to win."

Both regular season meetings between the two were decided by two goals or less. Lowell led the first game of the year 3-1 before Carter Hutton went down with an injury and the River Hawks had to send untested freshman T.J. Massie between the pipes, who surrendered four goals as BU turned in a 5-3 win. Massie is no longer with the team, leaving to play the rest of the year in the USHL before presumably returning this coming fall.

But the loss, which ends the River Hawks season, signals a corner turned.

When Marty Meehan took over as chancellor of the university in 2006 and effectively saved the program from elimination, there was no telling how much damage the rumors did to recruiting, among other things.

"This has been a good journey for us to get here," MacDonald said. "Two years ago our program was almost extinguished. Our juniors were a part of that trial and tribulation. Around the holidays we lose six games by a goal. To respond and finish the way we did is a terrific journey. We can take that sting of tonight and learn from it. We lost tonight, but we are winners.

"No one, myself included, expected us to be playing in the Hockey East championship game and competing as well as we did."

Even in defeat, the River Hawks suddenly find themselves an early favorite to be back at the Garden next season. UMass Lowell graduates just three players from last night’s team – Mark Roebothan (19 points), Mike Potacco (20 points) and Nick Monroe (10 points).

“It’s frustrating,” said Roebothan, a captain, with a sigh. “We’re so close and we worked so hard to get to this point. It’s just frustrating.”

McCARTHY FINALLY GETS RECOGNIZED

Andover's John McCarthy has been a fourth-liner at BU since he first donned a Terrier red jersey.

He's always been known as a shutdown defender.

But in his last Hockey East tournament, he's showing signs of offensive life.

McCarthy finished tied for the tournament lead with six points, and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.

“Personally, one of the best things about this year is watching the coming out of John McCarthy," Parker said. "He's a great leader, and he's always done his job. He moved to more of an offensive role this year, and he's done great, just terrific. He's the best student on the team, and he has earned the recognition he’s gotten this year."

The All-Tournament Team
F John McCarthy (BU)
F Colin Wilson (BU)
F Scott Campbell (UML)
D Maury Edwards (UML)
D Matt Gilroy (BU)
G Kieran Millan (BU, MVP)
 

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