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Friday, January 11, 2008

Men's Hockey 4, UMass-Lowell 3 (OT)

Good times Rheault for Friars
Senior captain doubles up again to top Riverhawks
Scribe's note: this account is based on CSTV's Gametracker service

Doing this again, are they?

Two nights shy of the anniversary of their last trip to Tsongas Arena –a venue they will revisit in a Saturday matinee- the Friars left it up to their senior captain to vanquish the feisty UMass-Lowell Riverhawks.

What Colin MacDonald cooked up last year in one of many recent overtime affairs between these teams, Jon Rheault conjured up at Schneider Arena at 0:46 of the bonus round.

Already having opened the scoring altogether ages previous within the fourth minute of the opening frame, Rheault completed his seventh multi-point and third two-goal performance of the season by converting a feed from Greg Collins and finalizing an exhilarating 4-3 triumph.

Even with a two-point-each trifecta of their own in defender and lone senior Kelly Sullivan, Mark Roebothan, and Scott Campbell, the resurgent Riverhawks could not withhold 2-1 and 3-2 leads long enough. Defender John Cavanagh joined Rheault in PC’s multi-point club when his second assist of the game turned into partner Cody Wild’s equalizer with 10:52 left in regulation, piloting the game into a fourth period.

And as an ultimate result, Lowell (9-5-4 overall) saw an end to its five-game winning streak that pulled it way out of earshot of the .500 borderline and the Friars –who with the win are now one knob above the median percentage- pull even in the Hockey East standings at 12 points each, for at least a few more hours.

The swinging and swaying pace of the Friars’ first game in 2008 was virtually an unchanged carry-over from their 5-3 overhaul of Michigan State two weeks ago –yet another come-from-behind epic wherein Rheault supplied a pair of lamplighters. He now boasts a runaway team-leading dozen of them.

Without this year’s reincarnation of Captain Clutch Colin, Friday’s contest could have just been a carry-over from the last PC-Lowell get-together, a 2-2 knot on November 16.

Early on, in the inadvertent spirit of Gillette Stadium Snowglobe (almost) Season –which is the whole reason Part II of this series will run earlier than initially slated- the contesting parties exchanged football-length tours of puck and momentum possession.

Providence was only three shots into its test of Lowell netminder Carter Hutton –who had come in with two ties in as many career bouts with the Friars- when Rheault extended his hot streak, inserting a shipment from pointman Mark Fayne for the 1-0 edge at 3:21.

But after the Friars whittled a little more, eventually holding a 7-4 upper hand in the shooting gallery, the Riverhawks’ sprinkle of first-line leadership perked up. The fourth of five unanswered Lowell stabs at Tyler Sims went through as juniors Roebothan and Mike Potacco –the club’s top two guns- helped their contemporary linemate Campbell to an equalizer at 10:51.

Within another precise 3:30 –an interim passed by through a vain, three shot sugar rush by the Friars- Campbell and Roebothan altered roles and struck for a 2-1 lead, already giving Campbell his second career and consecutive multi-point performance (two goals in a 6-0 drubbing of Maine December 29).

A little more molecular up-and-down activity in the second period did nothing to shift the scoreboard, but did nibble off each team’s originally perfect disciplinary record. After no whistle activity on his part throughout the opening frame, referee John Gravellese flagged freshman Friar Kyle MacKinnon for holding at 1:20 and Pierce Norton for charging at 7:16, a mere twenty seconds before Lowell’s Maury Edwards earned his team’s first citation for boarding.

Roughly ten minutes later, though, Norton was available for PC’s second (and, incidentally, final) man advantage and. with the aid of Nick Mazzolini and Cavanagh, potted his third goal against Hutton and fifth power play conversion this season to send things into intermission at 2-apiece.

Sullivan –already with a helper on the night- joined Campbell and Roebothan in the goal-assist variety pack club at 4:36 of the third, vacuuming the remains of Chris Auger’s bid at his left point post and swatting one home to restore Lowell’s lead.

But Wild, yet another blazing blade with three multi-point games on his December transcript, renewed the anarchy and set the Friars on an effective build-up to Rheault’s overtime clincher. Providence outshot Lowell, 7-3, nearly the same data from the young minutes of the first period, for the remainder of regulation.

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