LOWELL, Mass. — Pulling out a tie when the other team finishes with triple the number of shots is something to hang one's hat on. But that's not how the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team saw the events of Friday night.
Appearing to be well on the way to their second win of the season with just minutes to play in the third period, the Wildcats had to settle for a draw when host UMass Lowell scored twice in 27 seconds to force overtime. The final was a 2-2 tie before a crowd of 5,414 at the Tsongas Center.
"If you walked into the locker room after the game tonight, you would have thought we lost a playoff game," said UNH coach Mike Souza. "Which I told them was a good thing. That tie tonight stung, but I told them, we get to come back and play tomorrow."
UNH is now 1-4-2 on the season and 1-1-1 in Hockey East, leaving it still searching for a win since a 3-2 overtime home victory over Vermont on Oct. 27. The Wildcats will host Boston University Saturday at 7 p.m.
"It just comes down to us playing a 60-minute hockey game," UNH senior forward Ara Nazarian said. "That's the closest we've come to playing a 60-minute hockey game, but obviously it wasn't enough."
The River Hawks outshot UNH 34-11 on the night. UNH goalie Mike Robinson, who was minutes away from his first career shutout, finished with 32 saves.
"I thought it was a good test of resolve," said River Hawks coach Norm Bazin, whose team is now 4-4-1, 1-2-1 in the league. "It had to come down to the last three minutes to tie the game. We'll take that point tonight."
Both Lowell goals came off the stick of Ryan Lohin, his first two goals of the season. The first came at 17:47 of the third period and the second came at 18:14, before the public-address announcer got around to announcing the first goal.
Minutes after an apparent goal by the River Hawks was nullified by replay, UNH struck at 11:39 of the first period when Nazarian scored his second of the season. Later in the frame, Marcus Vela gave UNH a 2-0 lead when he fired a shot from the slot to the upper glove side of Lowell goalie Tyler Wall at 19:27.
UNH's best scoring chance in overtime came about 90 seconds in when Max Gildon's shot from the left point was right on goal but swallowed up by Lowell goalie Tyler Wall. UNH had two shots in the extra frame to the River Hawks' none.
The two teams will tangle again in a home-and-home series March 1-2.