No. 16 River Hawks triggered by Michigan State, 4-3

EAST LANSING, Michigan—The No. 16 UMass Lowell men’s hockey team (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 road loss to Michigan State (2-1-0 , 0-0-0 Big Ten) Thursday night at the Munn Ice Arena.

Seniors Carl Berglund (Hammaro, Sweden) and Brian Chambers (Weymouth, Mass.) led the team in points for the second straight contest with two apiece. Berglund dished out two assists, while Chambers scored the opening goal and added a power-play assist. Graduate student Filip Fornåå Svensson (Linköping, Sweden) extended his scoring streak to two with the only power-play goal of the night in the second period. Freshmen Truman Scout (Lethbridge, Ontario) and Nick Rheaume (Trois Rivières, Que.) had career firsts at East Lansing. Truman scored the equalizer in the third for his first collegiate goal, while Rheaume dished out the assist for his first point as a River Hawk.

In defense, junior Brehdan Engum (Burnsville, Minn.) was a standout presence on the blue line with a team record in three blocks, while a graduate student Gustavs Davis Grigales (Riga, Latvia) made 21 saves.

Chambers got the ball rolling for the River Hawks in Thursday night’s game with his first point of the night at 2:53 of the period. The elder charged down the ice through the slot as teammate Berglund grabbed the puck behind the goal. Berglund then returned a centering pass to Chambers, who stuffed it between the legs of Michigan State’s Dylan St. Cyr for the opening count.

The Spartans’ offensive intensity grew over the period, but the UMass Lowell defense went to work providing crisp front-end coverage. defensive partners isaac jonsson (Ängelholm, Sweden) and Ben Meehan (Walpole, Mass.) provided a physical barrier for UMass Lowell, throwing their bodies past Michigan State’s shots to help slow their offense.

The River Hawks front row got another chance to light the light on the penalty spot after a Michigan State error gave Berglund the chance to escape. Accelerating down the middle, Berglund maneuvered the puck past St. Cyr, but the Spartan keeper stopped the shot with a set kick. Michigan State used the key stoppage to change momentum in their favor and take a 3-1 lead late in the period. Despite several chances at net from the River Hawks’ sticks, the Spartans held on to the two-goal advantage as the teams headed into the first break.

A call against Michigan State with just 15 seconds left in the first brought UMass Lowell back to the ice with the man advantage. The River Hawks wasted no time in tipping the power play in their favor with a goal just 49 seconds behind Fornåå Svensson’s second. Chambers took the first chance at net, firing a close range that bounced past St. Cyr. Alone at the opposite face-off spot, Fornåå Svensson grabbed the rebound and snuck in a quick one-timer past the Saint-Cyr glove to bring the team back within striking distance.

The River Hawks continued to chase the equalizer as the puck fell for the third. Down just one, the wait was short-lived for UMass Lowell. Just 1:14 into the frame, the team found their way back into the area. Truman, keeping the puck out of reach of his defender, bounced the puck off the boards towards his classmate Rhéaume. The striker immediately returned the pass to Truman, who turned and ripped the shot off the post and into the net to lock the two teams at 3-3.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation time, Michigan State got a one-on-one chance after a blocked shot bounced in the neutral zone. Spartan’s Tanner Kelly and Fornåå Svensson raced for the puck, but Kelly took the lead and fired a net attempt that was quickly denied by Grigals. A call against the River Hawks, however, gave Kelly the opportunity for a one-on-one against the penalty shot. Despite an initial save from the graduate transfer goaltender, the puck took an errant rebound to ultimately push Michigan State up 4-3 to earn the first win of the series.

UMass Lowell returns to Munn Ice Arena tomorrow night looking for the split. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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