DURHAM, NH -- It was typical UMass Lowell hockey. In a rematch of last year's Hockey East championship game the River Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on opportunistic goals and clamped down to shut out the host Wildcats by a final score of 2-0 in front of 5,011 at the Whittemore Center.
After being swept 3-0 in the regular season series during the 2012-13 season UMass Lowell has now rattled off five consecutive wins over UNH including two that bounced the Wildcats from the post season both of the last two seasons.
"It was an excellent hockey game. [UNH is] an excellent hockey team. Thankfully for us we had the shot blocks and we had some urgency in our game. That's what you need if you're going to play on the road and have success," said Bazin.
"Needless to say, I was disappointed with the outcome," said UNH head coach Dick Umile.
With the help of a fortuitous bounce UMass Lowell took a 1-0 lead to the locker room after one period. John Edwardh tapped home a puck off an errant shot by Chris Mannicia with 3:20 left in the opening frame. It was the first collegiate goal for the freshman who was the beneficiary of a lively bounce off the end boards. Jake Kamrass picked up the secondary assist on the tally that came right after a Shane Eiserman scoring chance at the other end.
Despite trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes UNH created quite a few quality scoring chances including two chances in tight by Grayson Downing on two-on-ones. Downing's quality chances continued in the second period when he was hooked down on a breakaway. A penalty shot was called, but Downing's wrister was swatted away by UMass Lowell goaltender Kevin Boyle's blocker.
"I just kind of read it. He shot it and I had my blocker out. I was lucky enough to make the save," said Boyle.
"That was a key time in the game in not letting their crowd into it," added Bazin.
UMass Lowell only had 14 shots on goal through two periods, but another opportunistic goal increased the River Hawks lead to 2-0 after 40 minutes. Terrence Wallin picked up a loose puck on the left goal line and found a wide open A.J. White who was hanging on the weak side. White quickly buried the puck past UNH goaltender Adam Clarke.
Junior Kevin Boyle, a transfer from Massachusetts, picked up his second career shutout, the other coming with the Minutemen on November 9, 2012. The Manalapan, NJ native made 33 saves, but he credited his defense with keeping many of the shots to the outside.
"Kevin had an outstanding game. I thought he was solid throughout. The guys did a nice job in front of him, but he was timely," Bazin explained.
That was especially true in the third period. Outside of a flurry that saw UNH defenseman Cameron Marks take three shots from in close, the River Hawks did a very good job of stifling the Wildcat charge and keeping the play to the perimeter.
"[The defense] did an amazing job. We came out in the third period and played exactly how we want to play. We kept everything to the outside. I was able to see the first shot and control the rebound," said Boyle.
"[UMass Lowell] just packed it in and blocked shots. We had a difficult time getting it through. We had no luck putting it past their defense," added Umile.
Despite being outshot 11-2 in the third period Bazin was extremely pleased with his team's performance over the final 20 minutes.
"I thought we saved our best period for last. Despite the shots I thought the third period was our best. Our forwards did a better job helping our defense force [UNH wide]. UNH pushed, but fortunately for us, we were able to keep pucks to the outside in the third period," said Bazin.
The two teams will meet tomorrow night in the series finale at 7 p.m. at the Tsongas Center. UMass Lowell (4-1-1) looks to stay undefeated in Hockey East play while UNH (2-3-0) will look to exact some revenge.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.