March 21, 2014 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Kamrass, Defense Steer Lowell to Hockey East Title Game

by Jen Dobias/CHN Reporter

BOSTON — Sometimes, Zack Kamrass can escape notice. As a defenseman, he does all the little things so well but still rarely finds himself in the spotlight.

Friday night, that wasn’t the case. Kamrass picked up a pivotal assist, and added a power-play goal, as Massachusetts-Lowell blanked Notre Dame, 4-0, to advance to the Hockey East finals and earn the right to defend its crown.

After Christian Folin opened the scoring at 10:13 in the first period, Kamrass helped to make it a two-goal game just more than two minutes later when he set up an odd-man rush that ended in Derek Arnold firing a blistering wrist shot over Steven Summerhays’ glove.

“Zack Kamrass made a great play standing up with a great stick, poke check,” Arnold said. “I was coming back and picked up that puck from Zack, and we just went off to the races on a two-on-one.”

Later, at 13:21 in the second period, Kamrass gave the River Hawks an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

On the penalty kill, Notre Dame attempted to clear the puck up the wall, but Kamrass stopped it before it could trickle over the blue line. With the left wing to himself, he skated to the bottom of the circle and tried to feed Josh Holmstrom in front. His pass deflected off an Irish defenseman and into the net.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Notre Dame forward T.J. Tynan said of trying to come from behind against the River Hawks. “We thought it was going to be a low-scoring game and when we saw them score two quick goals like that it was obviously frustrating. ... They played tight defense.”

That Kamrass has been a key piece in a lockdown Massachusetts-Lowell defensive unit, which has allowed the least goals against in the nation (72), is unsurprising. In 2011-12, he was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team, and he’s carved out an identity as a reliable defender who makes smart plays with the puck throughout his career.

Now, he’s starting to show a little more offensive flair. As a freshman, seven of his 11 points came in the last seven games of the season, and his only goal was an overtime winner in Game 2 of UMass-Lowell’s Hockey East quarterfinal series against Providence. His sophomore year, he posted 10 assists in 41 games.

This year, he has surpassed his career high in goals (three) and assists (18) despite missing five games between Jan. 25 to Feb. 8 with injury. Since his return, he has posted five points, including a two-assist performance in Massachusetts-Lowell’s 2-2 tie with then Boston College on Feb. 22.

“Obviously, it was tough being out,” Kamrass said. “The biggest thing during that time was just trying to rest and break down down video and watch stuff and learn different things.”

When asked about the root of his success, and his growth as a defenseman over the past three seasons, Kamrass again brought up the importance of learning from those around him.

“I had some great D partners the last two years,” Kamrass said. “The biggest thing is continuing to learn from the coaching staff, my D partners and my other teammates. I try to keep it simple and move the puck. It’s worked out thus far, and I just want to try to keep on doing the same.”

For UMass-Lowell to become only the fifth team to earn back-to-back Hockey East tournament crowns, its defense corps, bolstered by Kamrass’s steady presence, will have to be on the top of its game.

“We have to play our game and make sure we’re in attack-mode at all times,” Kamrass said simply.

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