LOWELL, Mass. – Freshman Emil Westerlund netted the first two goals of his career, but the University of Maine men’s hockey team was edged by UMass Lowell, 3-2, on Friday night at the Tsongas Center.
Soon after the puck dropped, UMaine killed off an early penalty and earned a power-play of their own. The best chance of that man-advantage – a goal line dish from Chase Pearson to Nolan Vesey – was stuffed at the left post by Christoffer Hernberg. It was Pearson that had another nice pass across the slot later in the first but Hernberg made the save on Mitchell Fossier’s tip. UMaine continued to carry the edge in play and held an 12-5 edge in shots on goal at the first break.
Rob McGovern – who had stopped UML’s leading scorer, Ryan Lohin, with a nice chest save in the first period – was tested early in the second with Maine on the penalty kill early, but the junior flashed the left pad on a low chance at the right post.
After trading penalties, the teams finally got back to 5-on-5 hockey and Emil Westerlund’s first career goal got the Black Bears the 1-0 lead midway through the frame. McGovern made two key saves in the span of 30 seconds – first on a shot from the slot and then on a shot through traffic – and Maine was primed to make it a two-goal lead and earned another power-play, but the River Hawks were able to break into the neutral zone and Colin O’Neill was able to finish a 2-on-1 past McGovern to tie it up.
In the final five minutes of the second period, though, both teams would find the back of the net – with Westerlund’s second coming off a tipped shot from Rob Michel – and they entered the break once again tied, but this time at 2-2.
Multiple, quality saves from McGovern in the first 10 minutes of the third period kept the game scoreless, with a nice read on a 2-on-1 to make a stop at the left post and then a fast-reaction save with the left shoulder on a shot from the right hashmarks.
The River Hawks would finally sneak another puck past McGovern at the 8:44 mark of the third to make it 3-2 on Chris Forney’s power-play tally.
Maine kept pushing for the equalizer and nearly found it with mere seconds to play and McGovern on the bench, but Eduards Tralmaks had his shot blocked wide and Westerlund’s shot went high.
The Black Bears (2-5-0, 1-2-0 HEA) finished with the final edge in shots on goal (29-27) while UMass Lowell (4-5-0, 1-4-0 HEA) had the edge at the dot (31-28). McGovern finished with 24 saves while Hernberg had 27.
The teams return to the ice tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. to wrap up the regular season series.