Boston, Mass. – He might be listed as the fourth center on the line chart, but don’t call him a fourth liner.
Freshman Ryan Lohin scored a goal and added two assists as UMass Lowell cruised past Notre Dame, 5-1, in the first semifinal at the 2017 Hockey East Tournament.
“I laugh when you say fourth line because he is quite a player. I’m not sure who our fourth line is. It just depends on the night,” said River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin.
After a fluky goal gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead 7:00 into the first period, Lohin and his linemates went to work. It was continuing where they left off after a four-goal performance from the line in the River Hawks’ quarterfinal series clinching win over New Hampshire.
“It’s always important a shift after a goal to see how the team responds. I thought we did a good job handling that situation,” said Lohin.
Lohin, a seventh round selection of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2016 NHL Draft, was camped out front of the net on both Lowell goals in the first period. On the first goal at the 7:25 mark, he provided a screen which prevented Notre Dame goaltender Cal Petersen from getting a good look at Colin O’Neill’s shot.
Just over two minutes later, Lohin scored what turned out to be the game-winner. He tipped Kenny Hausinger’s shot to himself and pushed it in past Petersen from just outside of the crease.
“Any time you play a good goaltender on the other side, you want to get traffic. It’s definitely going to be hard to beat him on the straight shots so we definitely wanted to get in front of him and create some chaos,” Lohin explained.
After C.J. Smith scored his 21st goal of the season in the second period to extend the UML lead to 3-1, Lohin was involved in the goal that gave his team a 4-1 cushion. He kept the play alive with sending a puck down the right wing wall to Hausinger, who was waiting in back of the net. Hausinger quickly fed the puck out to a pinching Michael Kapla who buried it.
Lohin, who had five shots on goal in the game, rang the post in the third period on a great look from the high slot. Nick Marin’s second of the season was the cherry on top of the sundae, extending the Lowell advantage to 5-1.
It’s not all about the offensive production when it comes to the Chadds Ford, Pa. native. He’s been on the first penalty-killing unit and his play throughout the entire 200-foot ice surface benefits his team.
“He’s good away from the puck. He’s good on face-offs. He’s excellent as far as scrums and he’s got a good stick. He is also on our first unit penalty kill, which is a big statement for a freshman. We use him a lot and he’s been good all year,” Bazin complimented.
By this point, he’s well acclimated to college hockey and ready for the accountability that comes with playing for one of the premier teams in Hockey East.
“I think the leadership of Joe [Gambardella], [Michael Kapla], and the other upperclassmen,” began Lohin. “They have done a good job of mentoring us. The coaching staff has been welcoming as well. I wouldn’t say pressure, but they have done a good job of keeping us calm and preparing us for games. We know what to expect day in and day out at the rink and away from the rink.”
Lohin and his UMass Lowell teammates will await the winner of the nightcap between Boston University and Boston College. Making their fifth straight appearance in the Hockey East Championship game, the River Hawks are looking for their third Lou Lamoriello Trophy, and first since 2014.
“The guys like playing here. It’s an exciting time of year to be playing hockey. We are thrilled we’re here, but we have been on both sides of this. We have lost two championships and we have won two. We would like to be on the side of 2013 and 2014,” Bazin said.
Puck drop from TD Garden Saturday night is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen across New England and the country on NESN and ESPN3.