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UMass Lowell Continues Hot Start with 6-3 Win Over Quinnipiac

No. 9 UMass Lowell found the back of the net four times in the third period en route to a 6-3 victory over No. 13 Quinnipiac at the Tsongas Center on Friday. The River Hawks improve to 2-0 after last week's season-opening victory over BC.

Michael Kapla (right) had a goal and an assist on Friday night.
Michael Kapla (right) had a goal and an assist on Friday night.
Matt Dewkett

LOWELL, Mass. -- All was well in River Hawk Nation after a season-opening win over Boston College last week, and the same remains true a week later.

No. 9 UMass Lowell found the back of the net four times in the third period en route to a 6-3 victory over No. 13 Quinnipiac at the Tsongas Center on Friday.

Through two games against a pair of excellent defensive teams, UML's offense has been as balanced as they come with its 11 goals coming from nine different players.

"I think there's been some good offense, there's been some contributions from a lot of different guys," UML head coach Norm Bazin said. "We have a lot of new guys, so if we're going to have success this year it's going to have to come from different lines. So far, I've been pleased with the parity between the first and so-called fourth lines."

After squeezing out a 5-3 win over Bentley to open its season last Saturday, things tumbled fast for the visitors from Hamden, Conn.

"I don't know if we could play much worse than that," said 20th-year Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. I thought we were really poor, really struggled in all areas of the game. It was a disappointing effort."

The River Hawks buzzed for the latter stages of the first period and took a 1-0 lead as Western Michigan junior transfer Robert Francis fed a beautiful give-and-go pass to sophomore Chris Maniccia.

At 15:39, Maniccia spun back to the front of the net and lifted a high snapper over QU junior goaltender Michael Garteig for the sixth goal of his career.

"In that first period, we were just in panic mode," Pecknold said, "and it wasn't just our freshmen. Right across the board, we were in panic mode all game. We've got some good hockey players who have played at a high level that just need to settle down and make plays."

Sophomore defenseman Michael Kapla doubled the UML lead at 4:17 of the second period, driving a puck on net from just inside the blue line.

The shot, which came off a pass from freshman C.J. Smith, took the Bobcat defense by surprise and fooled Garteig who was not completely square to the puck as it came through the offensive zone.

"I just kind of jumped up, it came to me and I just shot the puck," Kapla said with a smile. "It was pretty simple. C.J. made an effort to get to the net and it was just laying there."

The Bobcats got on the scoreboard at 9:32, using the speed of their top offensive unit early on a 4-on-3 power play to move within 2-1. Off an initial shot from senior centerman Matthew Peca, sophomore Sam Anas buried an open rebound on the blocker side of UML junior netminder Kevin Boyle for his third goal in two games.

Lowell took advantage of an early power play of its own to start the third period. Sophomore Evan Campbell drove through the slot for a shot on goal which Garteig batted back out front, but Smith followed the play to put the River Hawks up by two goals at 2:49.

Jake Suter’s shot at 7:30 bounced off Garteig’s glove and into the middle of the slot where Francis was on the spot to score his second goal as a River Hawk.

After UNH graduate transfer Justin Agosta picked a puck out of Boyle's pads to bring the visitors back within two at 10:49, Gambardella took a cross-ice pass from Smith for a wrister in the slot at 13:26.

"It's a team effort, it's not individual," said Gambardella who has made his contributions known on and off the scoreboard early on for UML. "We got some chemistry early and we're just trying to build that forward as the season progresses."

The teams again traded goals to conclude the scoring. Off a feed from Peca, Andrew Taverner scored the first of his career upstairs on Boyle at 15:36 to make the score 5-3. UML junior Michael Colantone made it a three-goal game again, depositing a shorthanded goal into an empty net from beyond center ice with just over three minutes to play.

Quinnipiac had its chances to stay in the game, but could not cash. Just after the midway mark of the second period, Peca was fed in stride moving in on Boyle but his backhand attempt to an open side of the goal clanked off the outside of the post.

That was the difference.

"Both teams made the opposition earn their ice," Bazin said. "I thought it was an early-season game in terms of turnovers, but a mid-season game in terms of physical play and making the other team earn it."

Boyle held his ground through a ten-save second period and finished with 24 stops in his second win of the year. The teams head south to conclude the weekend series on Saturday night at High Point Solutions Arena.No. 9 UMass Lowell found the back of the net four times in the third period en route to a 6-3 victory over No. 13 Quinnipiac at the Tsongas Center on Friday.