Despite a third period charge for the game-tying goal, 15th-ranked Vermont fell 2-1 to eighth-ranked UMass Lowell on Sunday afternoon in Game 3 of the best-of-three Hockey East Quarterfinals at Tsongas Center. The River Hawks win the series 2-1 and advance to the Hockey East Semifinals next Friday (Mar. 21) in Boston.
UVM drops to 20-14-3 on the season, while Lowell improves to 23-10-4. Vermont now awaits the selection of the 16-team field for the 2014 NCAA Tournament next Sunday (Mar. 23). The Catamounts are currently tied for 12th in the national PairWise rankings, which predict the tournament field.
"I've very proud of our hockey team. They've had a great season. I know there's probably still an outside shot we can still be playing so we'll keep our fingers crossed," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "Especially for the seniors, I really hope they have an opportunity to play another hockey game or more."
With Vermont on a power play at the midway point of the first period, the River Hawks scored the opening goal for the first time in the series. Shayne Thompson skated down the right wing on a 3-on-2 and dropped a pass to the trailer Christian Folin in the slot. Folin's hard one-timer went through the netting in the lower left corner of the goal, and after video review the shorthanded tally was confirmed.
A.J. White doubled the Lowell lead later in the frame at 15:43 as the River Hawks earned their first power play. White blocked a clearing attempt in the high slot and the puck caromed down to his forehand. The sophomore delayed before beating Brody Hoffman high blocker side for an unassisted goal and a 2-0 cushion.
Jake Fallon nearly put the Catamounts on the board with 1:10 left in the first period, but his close-range backhander deflected off Connor Hellebuyck and then the right post to stay out. Vermont out-shot UMass Lowell 11-10 in the opening 20 minutes but trailed by a pair.
Late in the second, Vermont went on its fourth power play and cut the lead to one. Brady Shaw worked the puck to the left point for Nick Bruneteau, who wristed a shot toward the right post. Fallon was camped on the doorstep and the puck deflected off his right skate into the net with 2:14 left in the frame. Shaw collected the second assist on the play.
Vermont pressed for the tying goal in the final period with a 13-4 shot advantage. Just past the midway point, Chris McCarthy partially fanned on an open one-timer from the left faceoff circle as Hellebuyck slid across his crease for a post-to-post save. Shaw then hit the crossbar with a wrister from the right circle with less than two minutes to play.
The Catamounts called their timeout with 1:46 left on the clock and pulled Hoffman for an extra skater. Hellebuyck kept UVM at bay after a lengthy net-front scramble as UMass Lowell deflected the puck to the corner. The River Hawks cleared the puck to the left point in the closing seconds and held on for the victory.
Hoffman finished the night with 17 saves and closed the series with 83 stops, while Hellebuyck made 30 saves in the victory for UML. Shaw posted a four-point weekend including his first career multi-goal game on Friday in Game 1.
The NCAA Selection Show will air live on Sunday (Mar. 23) at 12 p.m. on ESPNU. The Catamounts are in search of their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010.
Courtesy: Vermont Athletics
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