LOWELL, Mass. -- It’s been a story of consistent offense for fourth-ranked UMass Lowell in the early goings of the season, and the theme continued for the River Hawks on Friday night.
Four River Hawks scored goals en route to a 5-3 victory over Big Ten foe Penn State in the first of two weekend games at Tsongas Center.
UML’s unbeaten streak now stands at six games (5-0-1) after the victory with the lone blemish coming in last Friday's 3-3 tie with Northeastern. The victory was Lowell's second in as any games after a 5-0 decision at Matthews Arena on Saturday and their 7-1-2 record sets its best start in Division 1 school history.
The River Hawks scored twice on their first eight shots on goal in the first period, taking a commanding 2-0 lead against the visitors playing their fifth game in a row against an opponent from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
"I thought we had a good start tonight," UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin said. "We knew they would be rested and ready to go. The start helped; I thought we shot the puck well. Overall, it was a good effort."
At 11:13, junior Robert Francis’ shot from between the circles found PSU junior Matthew Skoff’s pads but he got a little puck luck as it trickled through off a pass from junior winger Adam Chapie for his third goal of the season.
"You like to see those guys have success because he's an extremely hard worker," Bazin said of the Western Michigan transfer Francis. "I've had different guys transfer and had to sit out that year, but very few guys can match his work ethic. ... I give him a lot of credit, and this is not coming by accident."
Senior Zack Kamrass doubled the River Hawk lead at 18:46, taking a pass from sophomore centerman Chris Maniccia for a pretty drive that beat Skoff low through traffic.
Both sides attempted 20 total shots in what was a pretty even period, despite the two-goal advantage for the hosts.
The advantage was cut just 17 seconds into the middle stanza as Penn State junior right winger Casey Bailey took advantage of a juicy rebound left out front by UML goaltender Kevin Boyle. The carom made its way into Boyle’s right-hand faceoff circle and Bailey backhanded his team-best sixth goal of the season high into the back of the net.
UML responded with the final two goals of the period to take command with a three-goal lead for the first time on the night. Freshman John Edwardh let a snapper go from between the circles at 1:57, beating Skoff with a shot off the top corner of the net for his second goal of the season.
Francis netted his second of the night at 8:47, ripping a shot on net from just inside the blue line off a faceoff win by sophomore Chris Maniccia. UML's fourth marker of the night signaled an early end to Skoff's night after he had been the lone man in PSU's crease over the first eight games.
"Chris made a really good play off the faceoff and won it pretty clean," Francis said. "His shoulder was down, I took a shot at it and luckily it went in."
Penn State sophomore Eamon McAdam played very well after taking over for Skoff, making nine saves in his 11:13 of second-period action before UML stormed from the gate in the third and peppered him with eight more shots.
"I don't really think we gave (Matthew) much help," PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "He stopped some really good chances; it could have been worse. I think UMass Lowell worked really hard in our zone, and because of that I thought we gave up some pretty big chances."
There was nothing he could do at the 8:21 mark however, as freshman C.J. Smith took a beautiful pass from sophomore Dylan Zink for a high wrist shot.
His teammates brought the game within two in the final half of the third, but Boyle held the fort enough with 13 saves of his 34 saves in the final 20 minutes to finish off the victory.
Senior Tommy Olczyk buried a centering pass from junior Curtis Loik at 11:12 for PSU's second goal, while sophomore David Goodwin was uncovered in front for a rebound with 1:15 left to make the score 5-3.
The teams return to Tsongas for a 7 p.m. contest on Saturday night with the River Hawks searching for their third win in four games over Big Ten foes.