The first leg of the annual Alumni Cup series between Massachusetts and Massachusetts-Lowell went to the Minutemen in a 6-3 win Friday.
The combination of freshman Stephen Werner and sophomore Greg Mauldin connected for four goals and seven points as UMass (3-4-0, 2-3-0 HEA) kept the River Hawks (4-6-0, 0-5-0 HEA) out of the conference win column.
Werner broke a 3-3 tie at the 6:12 mark of the third period on a two-on-one chance. Mauldin gained the blue line and fed a backhand to Werner, who beat goalie Dominic Smart low to the far side.
“I saw that the goalie was kind of hugging the left post,” Werner said. “And I saw Mauldin take his guy to the net, so I just tried to put it in there.”
After being outplayed and outshot (22-14) for most of the game, UMass turned in its best period when it mattered most.
“We were talking it up in the locker room,” Mauldin said. “We knew that whoever won this period was going to win the game.”
Lowell had tied the contest with just 5:10 left in the second period
Just moments after Gabe Winer stoned Peter Hay on a partial breakaway, Darryl Green attacked the UMass defense from the right wing. Green beat Thomas Pock and Tim Vitek on the boards before feeding Mark Concannon in the slot for the goal.
“They really pinned us in along the boards,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We had some problems with their forecheck.”
The Minutemen took the lead in the period — despite being outshot 10-5 — on a power-play goal from Pock at 10:43.
Matt Anderson wheeled behind the net and found Marvin Degon at the point. He one-touched a pass to Pock for a first-time blast and the goal.
Pock, a natural forward, had a goal and an assist playing on defense.
“He has some areas that he needs to work on,” Cahoon said. “But he has so many puck skills he gives us a little more of a presence back there.”
Pock’s goal came just over two minutes after an Ed McGrane backhand from the slot knotted the game at two.
UMass controlled the tempo for most of the first period, bookending a Brad King goal with Mauldin’s pair of tallies. Both of the sophomore’s goals came on rebound chances coughed up by Smart.
The freshman entered the game with a discouraging .831 save percentage and did nothing to help it, as he allowed five goals on 19 shots. His counterpart was unspectacular, but good enough to get the win.
“Gabe [Winer] just a solid goalie,” Cahoon said of his rookie backstop. “He’s shown himself and the kids are playing with a little bit of confidence in front of him.”
Winer isn’t going to make the highlight reel with his performance, but he stopped 28 of 31 shots for his third win of the season.
Lowell turned up the pressure in the second half of the third but Werner’s second goal on a counterattack sealed the victory.
“That was a big part of the game for us,” Werner said.
Pock made a defensive stop in his own zone before gaining the Lowell blue line and fluttering a pass to Werner, who crashed the net and scored.
“All week, coach has been telling us to crash the net,” Werner said.
Senior Tim Turner notched an empty-net goal to conclude the Minutemen’s second conference win.