BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Sacred Heart men's hockey team trailed #7/9 UMass Lowell 2-1 after two periods Saturday afternoon at Webster Bank Arena in the Frozen Holiday Classic, but the River Hawks scored three unanswered goals in the third for a 5-1 win.
UMass Lowell (11-3-3) had a chance to score in the first minute when Chris Maniccia fired a shot from point blank range that was stopped by Vazzano. The River Hawks controlled play early, taking four shots in the first five minutes. Sacred Heart had an opportunity to take the lead with 15:08 remaining in the opening period, going on the power play. The Pioneers were held to one shot on goal from Justin Danforth (Oshawa, Ont.) on the man advantage and did not score.
Vazzano made sure the game stayed scoreless with 12:46 remaining when he stopped a C.J. Smith shot on a breakaway. The Pioneers responded with shots by Jordan Minello (Sweaburg, Ont.) and Evan Jasper (Whitby, Ont.) that were stopped by UMass Lowell goaltender Kevin Boyle. The River Hawks got on the scoreboard with 38.8 seconds left in the first on a Dylan Zink power play goal, assisted by A.J. White and Zack Kamrass. UMass Lowell took a 1-0 lead into intermission, outshooting the Pioneers 14-7.
Sacred Heart (5-10-2) had three quality chances to score in the first six minutes of the second period. Kory Kennedy (Midhurst, Ont.) was denied of the game-tying goal with 16:46 to play in the period from right in front of the River Hawks goal, with Boyle also stopping the rebound shot from Zach Luczyk (Charlton, Mass.). Drew George was also denied from close range with 14:30 remaining in the second. With 13:22 left, the Pioneers tied the game. Luczyk led a rush out of the Sacred Heart zone, getting the puck to Kennedy in the circle. The freshman then fired a shot on goal that Zach Sabatini (Johns Creek, Ga.) re-directed past Boyle's glove and into the back of the net, making the score 1-1. Sabatini's goal was his fifth of the season, with Luczyk tallying his team-leading 11th assist.
The Pioneers killed two power plays in the second period, with Vazzano making nine saves to keep the game 1-1. Luczyk nearly put Sacred Heart in front with 1:37 left, but he fired a shot on a breakaway off Boyle's blocker. The River Hawks then came back and took the lead with 30 seconds left in the period. C.J. Smith finished off a two-on-one UMass Lowell rush by putting a xx pass in the net, making the score 2-1 heading into the third period.
The River Hawks went on the power play 1:08 into the third period, but the Pioneers held UMass Lowell to two shots to keep the deficit at one goal. Senior captain Will Rayner (Needham, Mass.) almost tied the game with 14:00 left, but his rocket from the blueline was saved by Boyle. Less than a minute later, the River Hawks extended the lead. Michael Kapla faked a shot in the slot and fed the puck to Michael Fallon at the goal post who scored to make the score 3-1 with 13:03 remaining. Sacred Heart attempted to get back in the game with a Jeff Carroll (Kingston, Ont.) shot on a breakaway that Boyle kept out of his net. The Pioneers went on the power play with 7:59 to play and had three shots on goal, but couldn't score. UMass Lowell tacked on two goals late in the third period to make the final score 5-1.
UMass Lowell outshot Sacred Heart 46-22, marking the third straight game the Pioneers have allowed over 45 shots. Vazzano stopped 41 shots in goal for Sacred Heart, his highest total since recording 49 saves against Quinnipiac on Dec. 30, 2013. Boyle made 21 saves for UMass Lowell. The River Hawks were 1-for-6 on the power play as the Pioneers were scoreless on two man advantages.
The Pioneers will take on the loser of Saturday night's UConn/Union game at 3 p.m. Sunday in the consolation game of the Frozen Holiday Classic.