Northeastern vs. UMass-Lowell: Soaring River Hawks look to ground Huskies in Matthews match-up

Walter Rossini

Six of UMass-Lowell's nine wins during its current streak have come on the road, where the battle for Hockey East positioning continues on Friday night. At Matthews Arena, the No. 12/15 River Hawks face Northeastern to begin a home-and-home.

BOSTON -- Winning nine games in a row certainly boosts a team's confidence and that has certainly been the case for the UMass-Lowell River Hawks (13-7-1, 7-6-1 Hockey East).

Six of the team's nine wins during that stretch and eight of their 13 on the season have come on the road, where the battle continues on Friday night in Hockey East play with the start of a two-game weekend set with Northeastern at Matthews Arena.

UML holds an all-time edge in the series between the Bay State rivals, 56-40-7, including three of the last four meetings and a 2-0 shutout victory on Dec. 8, 2012 at Tsongas Center in the first head-to-head clash of the season.

The venerable barn on St. Botolph is one of just four Hockey East venues that UML holds a winning record in, standing 27-20-5. The 'Hawks, currently ranked No. 12/15 in the national rankings, split two games last year at Matthews as junior Derek Arnold beat NU senior Chris Rawlings on an overtime breakaway for a 2-1 win on Jan. 21, 2012.

With last Saturday's 4-3 win on the other end of the Back Bay at Agganis Arena, Lowell matched its Division I-era record for consecutive wins, set by current Maine head coach Tim Whitehead's club in 2001-02.

Sophomore striker Scott Wilson has picked things up offensively over the last five games as the Oakville, Ontario native has posted an even split of four goals and assists in that span, as well as six goals and 19 points in 13 games. Wilson is also the squad's leading scorer against the Hounds with four goals, six points and a +5 mark in four contests.

Connor Hellebuyck matched Providence's Jon Gillies save-for-save last Thursday night, posting 31 total stops in a 3-1 victory to earn Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors. While splitting time with junior Doug Carr, the Winnipeg Jet draftee from Commerce, Mich. has posted a 6-0-0 record and 0.95 goals-against average in seven appearances.

The UML penalty kill has killed off 41 of opponent's last 43 power plays, but its streak of 35 consecutive was halted at Boston University. Additionally, led by junior Chad Ruhwedel, the defensive corps has emerged for eight goals and 26 points in eight games.

Last weekend was a tale of two halves for the Huskies (7-11-2, 4-9-2 Hockey East), beginning with a resilient 6-5 victory at BU on Friday. NU captain Vinny Saponari posted his second-career winner against his old mates, scoring with 2:03 left in regulation.

On Saturday, NU scored three times in the first period before being stymied by Parker Milner and Boston College, 9-3. Kevin Roy saw a four-game point streak snapped in the contest. After a goal and two assists in the weekend opener, the Montreal product leads the Huskies with ten goals and 13 assists in 20 games, while holding the national lead in points per-game since Christmas and among rookies with 1.15 goals per-game.

Roy and junior Cody Ferriero, who posted four goals in a win on Dec. 29, 2012 at Harvard, are two of the top four Hockey East point producers on weekends since Christmas. The Essex, Mass. native and San Jose choice leads the league with seven goals in that span and under that scenario.

Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

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