The University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks scored goals in bunches early and often Friday night as they defeated the Providence College Friars, 6-1, in front of 4,248 fans at Tsongas Arena.
The River Hawks scored two goals in just over two minutes to start the game, and dominated the battle of the special teams throughout the night.
Mike Potacco got the River Hawksâ€™ first goal at :53 in the first period. Shortly thereafter, Kory Falite put home a wrap-around goal at 2:01 to quickly put the River Hawks up 2-0.
That was all Friars freshman goaltender Justin Gates would see, as he was pulled promptly after Faliteâ€™s goal to make way for senior netminder Chris Mannix.
â€œI just didnâ€™t think he looked alert,â€ said PC head coach Tim Army. â€œHe didnâ€™t look sharp on either goal, and his body language didnâ€™t tell me that he could make the next stop.â€
After the switch the Friars settled down and competed against the River Hawks, but as the game wore on, the River Hawks pulled away on the strength of their special teams. The River Hawks killed off all four of the Friarsâ€™ power plays, in front of Nevin Hamilton who saved 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
â€œThe PK blocking shots in front of Nevin is unbelievable,â€ said Falite. â€œGuys are sacrificing their bodies. Itâ€™s a great thing to see. And I think the PK is what sparked us tonight. As soon as we kill out some, itâ€™s a momentum gain for us.
â€œUncharacteristically we had to kill off three penalties in the first period,â€ said UML head coach Blaise MacDonald. â€œ[It] challenged our ability to get momentum back, and I think we did that in the second period.
The River Hawks went 2-for-3 on their own power-play opportunities, and added a 4-on-4 goal as well. The River Hawks scored on their first power play of the evening in the second period, when Nick Monroe netted his first goal of the season at 17:35. Monroe got the puck from Nick Schaus on the doorstep, and put it past Mannix.
In the third period the River Hawks shifted their offense into high-gear once again, scoring two goals only 45 seconds apart. Scott Campbell scored a 4-on-4 goal at 5:39, as he found some open ice to skate through the defense. Right after that, it was again Falite who followed up, netting his second goal of the game at 6:24 in the third.
Matt Taomina scored the Friarsâ€™ lone goal of the evening at 7:03 in third.
Maury Edwards put the exclamation point on the River Hawksâ€™ win with a 5-on-3 goal at 15:55 in the third.
The loss dropped the Friars to 0-7-1 in Hockey East play this season. That mark is the Friarsâ€™ worst start ever in conference play as a Hockey East team.
â€œWe just gotta push a little bit harder,â€ said Army. â€œFor me, itâ€™s not so much about winning, itâ€™s about playing a good, hard, competitive 60 minutes. I donâ€™t know if weâ€™ve found that yet, but we have in sparks.
Tomorrow night, the Friars (2-8-1, 0-7-1 HE) travel up to Durham to take on No. 13 New Hampshire, while the River Hawks (6-4-0, 4-2-0 HE) will play host to No. 6 Northeastern.