Late Rally Gives Lowell Upper Hand on Vermont
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
LOWELL, Mass. Massachusetts-Lowell entered the third period trailing only eight times all season, but the River Hawks were winless (0-7-1) when they did.
That changed Friday night.
Vermont led 2-1 entering the third period but Lowell scored twice in the final 8:43 to beat the Catamounts, 3-2, in the first game of their weekend best-of-three quarterfinal series. Adam Chapie scored the game-winning goal on the power play with just 1:07 remaining.
The River Hawks went on that power play with 1:53 left in the game after Vermont defenseman Michael Paliotta was whistled for interference after pinching his man on the wall during a rush.
"I don't really want to comment on it,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “You can read into it from there. Sub-2 minutes in a great hockey game. I'll leave it at that.
“It comes down to a power play with under two minutes to go. They seized the momentum to make it 2-2, had a couple of good shifts after that, but we did a good job of calming down. We were headed to overtime, there was not much going on out there.”
On the ensuing man advantage, Chapie tried to get the puck back to Zack Kamrass at the left point, but it hit Chris McCarthy’s skate and trickled to Scott Wilson at the bottom of the right circle. Wilson looked as if he was going to shoot, but instead fired a cross-ice pass through traffic that Chapie one-timed past Vermont goalie Brody Hoffman.
“[Wilson] made a great pass,” Chapie said.
For the River Hawks, Chapie’s goal salvaged a game that saw them sleep walk through most of the second period.
Lowell had last weekend off, earning the first-round bye after finishing second in Hockey East, and while it didn’t seem to take long for the River Hawks to wake up – they played a solid opening 20 minutes – tired legs seemed to creep in during the second.
At one point, after Vermont held the zone for nearly two minutes, generating chance after chance while Lowell skaters seemingly stood still, head coach Norm Bazin was forced to use his timeout after an icing call just to get fresh players on the ice.
The River Hawks took some lessons from last season’s week off between the regional finals and the Frozen Four.
“We did a lot of game situational stuff,” said junior winger Scott Wilson.
Added Bazin, “It’s certainly a challenge. If you remember, we had the same break last year leading into the Frozen Four and we changed some things up from our approach last year.
“We came out pretty well. I wasn’t disappointed with our start, but we had a lull (in the second period) and we’ll need to fix that. We came back with a good third period, we had more urgency and desperation. We’ll need that for the whole game (Saturday).”
Vermont goes short on D
The Catamounts only dressed five defensemen due to some of their forwards recovering from illness this week.
“We had some guys who might have gone down any minute up front,” Sneddon said, “so we felt we needed an extra forward. We won’t go with five (in Game 2). We just needed to buy a day for some of those guys who were ill.”
That didn’t help matters when Paliotta, arguably Vermont’s best defenseman, was taken off the ice for that interference call inside of the last two minutes.
“He’s a terrific player” Bazin said.
Shaw nets a pair
Nerves? Brady Shaw’s are as cold as the steel on the bottom of his skates.
There’s just something about playoff hockey that brings out the best in the Vermont freshman. In his first collegiate playoff game he scored both of Vermont’s goals.
Last season, as a member of the Surrey Eagles in the British Columbia Hockey League, Shaw led the team in scoring, including totaling 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 27 playoff games to help lead the Eagles all the way to the RBC Cup semifinal (Canadian Jr. A national tournament).
“He’s been great,” Sneddon said. “He’s a big power forward and he has great hands for a bigger guy. Speed is not his strength, his strength is protecting the puck and his shot. His line was probably out best line.”
Wilson returns for Lowell
Scott Wilson was back on the Tsongas Center ice for the first time since Jan. 18 after missing eight games with an undisclosed injury, though he was seen around the Lowell campus with a cast on his arm.
In his return to home ice, the Oakville, Ontario, native netted Lowell’s second goal and assisted on Chapie’s game-winner.
The time off did wonders, as Wilson says he’s healed up and ready for what he hopes is another deep playoff run for the River Hawks.
“Our training staff did a great job,” Wilson said. “They pretty much have me in the shape I was in coming back from the summer.”