Balanced offense pushes UMass Lowell past Boston College

UMass Lowell - Robert Francis
(Photo/John Corneau/
UMass Lowell - Robert Francis umass lowell Balanced offense pushes UMass Lowell past Boston College Robert Francis
(Photo/John Corneau/Mill City Sports)

LOWELL, Mass. — The UMass Lowell River Hawks upset the No. 4 ranked Boston College Eagles, 5-2, on Friday night to open the 2014-15 Hockey East season at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The Eagles got on the board first only 2:26 into the first period when Chris Calnan was able to put one past junior goaltender Kevin Boyle. The Massachusetts Minutemen transfer managed to pick up his first win in River Hawk blue while stopping 19-of-21 shots. Boyle spent last season in the stands while sitting out after transferring to the program. He was happy to be back in game action.

“Felt good to be back out there,” said Boyle. “Playing against a big name team like BC it’s not hard to stay in the game, no matter how many shots you have. I was just staying focus throughout the first two periods, even when the puck wasn’t in my end and stayed ready.”

“I’m lucky to have such great support from family back home, coaches, the staff and my teammates are amazing,” Boyle added.

UMass Lowell returned with three straight first period goals from Evan Campbell, Michael Fallon and Michael Louria. The third goal was Louria’s first collegiate goal and gave the River Hawks a two-goal padding. C.J. Smith assisted on UMass Lowell’s third goal of the game, which gave Smith his first collegiate point.

This season UMass Lowell fans will see a lot of first points, first goals and first wins with 14 incoming freshmen on the roster.

It wasn’t until Joseph Gambardella‘s third period empty-net goal, assisted by Zack Kamrass, that a UMass Lowell skater had more than a single point. In total, 10 different River Hawks were able to tally a point on Friday night. Spreading the offense around the team.

One of the five River Hawks to score a goal on Friday night was Robert Francis. Similar to Boyle, the 23-year-old forward spent last season on the sidelines after transferring from Western Michigan. Francis visibly had weight lifted from his shoulders after potting his third period goal, throwing his hands in the air with excitement.

“It’s awfully frustrating and it’s tedious for those guys to work everyday knowing their not going to get into any games,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin about Boyle and Francis getting back to game action following sitting out an entire season. Bazin added,  “I feel like both of them have gotten better from the time they got here to right now, hopefully the trend continues where they keep that up.”

The loss of star-powered goaltending was an obvious question mark entering the season for the River Hawks and the offense would have to be explosive to compete this year. UMass Lowell proved to be able to both stop shots and score goals on Friday night against a top-ranked hockey program, giving fans something to look forward to this season.

The crowd was surely a factor on Friday night as the Tsongas Center played host to 7,326 screaming fans. The attendance was second most in school history only to last year’s regular season finale against Boston College. Although a total attendance record was not set like originally hoped for, the school did post the highest number of students in attendance with 2,365.

UMass Lowell is next in action during a home-and-home series against the ECAC’s Quinnipiac University Bobcats. The River Hawks will host the Bobcats on Friday, October 17th and will travel to Connecticut for a Saturday night tilt.