The No. 12 University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks scored three unanswered first-period goals and extended their unbeaten streak against the University of Maine to seven games (6-0-1) with a 5-3 Hockey East victory at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts, on Friday night.

It was the 132nd meeting between the two and this is the best ever run by the River Hawks over the Black Bears.

The River Hawks improved to 12-3-3 overall after winning their fourth straight game. The Hockey East leaders are now 9-2-1 in league play.

UMass Lowell remains undefeated at home (6-0-3) and kept UMaine winless on the road (0-6-1).

UMaine fell to 3-13-4 and 1-9-2.

The teams will conclude the series in Lowell on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Carl Berglund opened the scoring for the River Hawks at the 8:28 mark of the first period with his fourth goal of the season and fifth in six career games against UMaine before a pair by Nik Armstrong-Kingkade at the 15:52 and 18:44 marks expanded the lead to 3-0. They were his third and fourth of the season.

Armstrong-Kingkade’s first one was his second shorthanded goal of the campaign.

“That third goal was demoralizing,” said UMaine head coach Ben Barr. “We had played a good period. It didn’t feel like a 3-0 game. It seemed like all of their chances went in.”

Barr replaced starting goalie Connor Androlewicz with Victor Ostman after the first period.

Androlewicz finished with six saves on nine shots and Ostman wound up with 20 on 22 shots.

Owen Savory made 20 saves for UMass Lowell.

Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup got one back for UMaine 4:51 into the second period, his second of the year, but defenseman Ben Meehan scored a back-breaking goal with just 13 seconds left in the middle period when his wrist shot from the midpoint deflected off a UMaine defenseman past Ostman.

“That one hurt. There’s a big difference between going into the third period down 3-1 instead of  4-1,” Barr said. “We had chances to get that puck deep [into UMass Lowell’s zone] and run out the clock but we didn’t do it.”

It was Meehan’s fourth.

Nolan Renwick’s second goal of the season pulled UMaine within 4-2 on the power play 4:03 into the third period but Ryan Brushett sewed up the win with a five-on-three power play goal with 3:05 remaining. It was his fifth goal and four have come on the power play.

UMass Lowell’s Andre Lee received a five-minute major for boarding and UMaine pulled Ostman in favor of the extra attacker when Donavan Houle scored his team-leading seventh goal on the 6-on-4 with 53 seconds remaining.

Barr said the game was an example of a “good team taking advantage of everything we gave them. We played hard but we need to be better, defensively. The guys had a hard time keeping their focus and intensity up.”

He said his team had “plenty of chances. It has been the case all year. We have trouble winning games. We have to find a way to get over the hump. We’ll take the positives out of this and move on to tomorrow,” said the first-year coach.

UMaine had carried the play in the early going but UMass Lowell capitalized on its first good scoring opportunity when Lee fed Berglund and he converted.

Armstrong-Kingkade was left alone while shorthanded and snapped the puck past Androlewicz off a Zach Kaiser feed. His second goal of the period was a tap-in after Androlewicz made a save on Lucas Condotta’s wraparound but dropped the puck in front.

Schmidt-Svejstrup scored from the middle of the slot off a Jakub Sirota feed.

But Meehan answered.

Renwick scored with a shot from the slot after his initial shot hit a River Hawk but Brushett regained the three-goal cushion after being set up in the five-on-three by Reid Stefanson and Berglund.

Renwick picked up an assist on Houle’s goal as did Lynden Breen.

UMaine was without senior winger Adam Dawe (COVID-19 protocols) and center Keenan Suthers (undisclosed injury).