Lowell, MA. – The Michigan State Spartans and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks welcomed back NCAA hockey fans to the Tsongas Center for the first time in over a year. The two schools did not disappoint the 4,658 fans in attendance as they traded scores en route to a 2-2 overtime tie.
The Spartans were backstopped by senior goalie Drew DeRidder and his 37 saves. While the River Hawks were rewarded for their hard work by sophomore Brehdan Engum. Engum was chosen by the senior leadership trio of captain Lucas Condotta, and assistants Jon MacDonald and Reid Stefanson as the “Assistant Captain” for October. This was in appreciation for the effort that the sophomore from Burnsville, MN. has put into the season thus far.
The visiting Spartans jumped out to the 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the opening period. Freshman David Gucciardi beat UML’s Owen Savory (15 saves) top corner blocker-side. Gucciardi’s first NCAA goal was assisted by Griffin Loughran who carried the puck out from behind the River Hawks goal and dished to Gucciardi at the left face-off dot.
Gucciardi gave the River Hawks a power-play at 15:33 when he was whistled for Hooking. The hosts put pressure on the Spartans but DeRidder turned away both shots.
The Spartans had a power-play at 5:23 of the second but it was UML that had the quality scoring chances while down a man. Twice the River Hawks penalty kill unit was able to disrupt the Spartans’ power-play and create chances in the offensive zone.
The River Hawks tempted the power-play gods again when freshman defenseman Gabe Blanchard was called for Interference at 8:06.
MSU’s Jagger Joshua was sent off for Interference at 11:12 and Dennis Cesana followed just seconds later at 11:36 for Tripping. The River Hawks peppered the Spartans’ goal but DeRidder was there for the save.
It looked like the River Hawks were going to squander the two-man advantage momentum but senior forward Andre Lee tied the game at 1-1 at 13:43. Lee carried out from the side of the MSU goal and lifted a backhander over DeRidder for his first goal of the year. Connor Sodergren and Carl Berglund assisted.
Michigan St. hit the post early in the third. Then the Spartans earned a five-on-three of their own. Engum was called for Tripping at 6:27 and sophomore Ben Meehan was whistled for the same infraction at 7:44.
The River Hawks killed off the remaining time on Engum’s penalty but Michigan St. forward Jeremy Davidson buried a one-timer high, blocker-side on Savory for the 2-1 lead at 9:37. The power-play goal was assisted by Mitchell Lewandowski and Kristof Papp.
After giving up the go-ahead goal it seemed as if the River Hawks had the puck in the Spartans zone for the remainder of the third period. UML had numerous chances on DeRidder but couldn’t capitalize as the period wound down.
At 18:22 Engum took off through the neutral zone on a give and go with Brian Chambers. Engum darted through four MSU players before writing the puck past DeRidder to tie the game and send the Tsongas Center crowd into a frenzy.
The two teams traded opportunities during the five-minute three-on-three overtime but both Savory and DeRidder were intent on keeping the score even. UML forward Stefanson was called for the rare overtime penalty at 4:20 for Slashing but the Spartans couldn’t take advantage of the resulting four-on-three.
“That was a good battle, a good physical game,” said Michigan St. coach Danton Cole. “We knew UMass-Lowell was a good hockey team. They played well tonight, putting a lot of pressure on us.”
“For our first game on the road, it was good. Our guys battled and had a chance there towards the end and couldn’t close it off. They made a nice play. We kind of lost our speed and they kicked it out and drove through,” said Cole of the late goal by Engum to tie the game.
“I’m sure people got their’s monies worth today. It was a good, exciting hockey game and for us a good tie but we got to get back to work.”
“I thought it was a well-played game by both teams,” said UML coach Norm Bazin. “I thought after a long layoff we had some definite rust.”
“I thought we looked better in the third period and we had our looks on the three-on-three to win and their goalie made some great saves. I have to give him credit.”
Bazin also gave the fans their credit as well.
“You score at the end like that and it’s so great to have the energy behind you. I give a big shout-out to the students who showed up tonight. It was awesome! Awesome to see some life in the building and to have that energy,” said Bazin.
The two teams clash again on Saturday at 6:05 pm in Lowell.