If nothing else, you have to call Massachusetts-Lowell hockey exciting.

A 4-2 loss to Union on Saturday may have ended the River Hawks’ season, but they certainly treated the fans at the East Regional to a roller coaster ride of emotions.

In its opening game, Lowell built a 3-0 lead in just over 22 minutes against consensus regional favorite Miami. The River Hawks band was rocking. The fans were chanting. All was well.

Elation quickly turned to desperation. Miami scored three unanswered goals to tie the game late in the third. With 3:35 left in regulation, and Lowell stumbling against the ropes, freshman Jake Suter was whistled for a major and game misconduct for checking from behind.

If not for the overtime heroics of junior captain Riley Wetmore, it could have been one of the biggest collapses in recent tournament history.

Less than 24 hours later in the regional final against Union, the roles were completely reversed. Lowell had trouble getting anything going early against a stifling Union defense and trailed 3-1 heading into the third period.

To their credit, the River Hawks remained confident.

“We felt that we were never going to stop playing, even after the second period,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said. “All year long we had been in those situations and had been able to overcome them.”

It seems that this Lowell team found a way to play its best hockey when the stakes were the highest.

“We knew going into the third that it was do or die,” said Wetmore.

“The game came in waves,” said sophomore goaltender Doug Carr. “We brought it back to them, especially later in the game. We played better and better.”

Then fortune struck with a funny bounce. Union forward Jeremy Welsh controlled a loose puck behind his own net. It was unclear what he was trying to do with the puck, but he ended up shoveling it forward through his own crease to Lowell’s Matt Ferreira, who buried the gift-wrapped goal to make it 3-2 late in the third.

“I don’t really remember what happened,” Welsh said. “Coach will have to show me on Monday.”

“I don’t know if he was trying to make it interesting here or what,” Union coach Rick Bennett joked. “But we talk about the stickhandling wizardry sometimes that he tries.”

“I didn’t realize what happened,” Ferreira said. “The puck squirted in front of me and I had the whole net. It was just a fortunate play for us.”

The River Hawks regained the momentum and continued to pour it on in search of the game-tying goal. And empty-net goal later, though, they came up short. Still, their tenacity and determination made the final minutes an exciting end to the roller coaster.

  • Coach

    What about the fact that they got screwed with the empty net goal that shouldn’t have counted, or is there an NCAA rule that says you can be off-side if there’s no goalie in the net?

    • Bogie_yo

       Oh shush!  They still would have lost.

      Union dominated every period.  Welsh was unstoppable and Grosenick showed why he is a Hobey Baker finalist.

      On to Tampa.  Go U!!!

      • After Further Review

         You MAY be right, they MIGHT have still lost… that doesn’t change the fact that ALL 4 on ice officials completely blew a call at a very important time.  That is just awful officiating.
        I am taking nothing away from Union, I am very happy they are going to Tampa (wouldn’t have minded UML either).  UML from 5 to 24 wins in one year and being a UNH fan when we beat Union when our goalie couldn’t have stopped a puck if you hit him with it, they played great hockey all weekend.
        Good luck in Tampa!

        • Wilyweavile

          If one offsides call is the worst call of the game then I’d say your officiating was pretty good compared to a fair number of the games I’ve seen.

          • After Further Review

             There has been some poor officiating, no doubt.  Did you see this particular game?  It wasn’t just an offsides it was the fact that there was less than one minute left, Union shot into an empty net from the red line, while one of their players was still in the offensive zone.  It took away the last chance for UML to potentially tie it up, as it put Union up 3-1.
            I think the best team won and I am not a fan of either, I was just commenting on how bad the timing was for them to all miss that call.

          • Leggs2

            According to YOU the refs missed the call. 4 of them said otherwise. Before the puck entered the net the player had touched up, and there is some indication that it may have struck a Lowell defenseman too.
            Game was over anyways—they weren’t going to get the puck anywhere near Grosenick, best goaltender in the nation.
            Go THE Union College!

          • After Further Review

             According to me and every un-biased person that watched.  It did not touch a UML player and if it has crossed the blue line going in before the touch up, it can’t go directly into the net, as it did.
            Anyways, I already said in prior posts, I am happy for Union(NY) and the better team definitely won the game.  The EZAC actually has some life in April!  Good  luck to them, I’ll be in Tampa and cheering for them to continue winning!  It’s great for college hockey to see Union(NY) and Ferris State(insert your choice here) make the FF.

          • GetItRight

            Watch the highlights before commenting – you have it ALL wrong.  The point isn’t that UML would’ve tied the game up – the point is that the refs were reviewing seemingly every goal and they didn’t review this one and it was CLEARLY offsides.  Not even close.  There’s 4 of them on the ice – can’t someone get it right!

          • Union Tampa

            Holy irrelevant.. It was 4-2 genius..

          • After Further Review

             And yes, my mistake… I wrote 3-1, when it was 4-2.  My bad, but either way, it put them up 2.

    • Union Tampa

      Coach get in the bus…

  • BBear94

    Nice season for Lowell after winning just 5 games last season and being bottom feeders in HEA for so many years.  Just shows what a new coach can bring to the program.  Listen up Maine…

  • After Further Review

    Wow, you are smart… that would be why the net was empty, because it was 3-2 before that!

  • ProudUMLAlum

    What an amazing year!  Although losing in the final was tough it doesn’t take away from what a fantastic ride it was.  Best of luck to Union who (as we would have been also) make their first ever frozen four appearance.  So proud of this Lowell team.  And proud to be a Umass Lowell Alum!! Go Riverhawks!!…CAN’T WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR!!