LOWELL — Maybe it was the unusual 3 p.m. start. Maybe it was the fact the teams faced off for the second time in 21 hours.
Whatever the reason, Monday’s Hockey East battle between UMass Lowell and Maine was a wild affair.
In the old days (pre-COVID), fans at the Tsongas Center would have gone wild as the River Hawks scored the most goals in the Norm Bazin-era during a 9-5 victory.
No. 17 UML (3-1-0) couldn’t bask in the applause of its fans since spectators aren’t allowed into games. The River Hawks will have to settle for a three-game winning streak and a two-game sweep of Maine in which UML found the back of the net 14 times.
“I’m excited for the guys,” Bazin said. “We’re so appreciative to play hockey during this crazy pandemic. You just want to score last.”
Junior Chase Blackmun was the star of stars during this offensive outburst with three goals. He became the first UML defenseman to net a hat trick since Dylan Zink achieved the feat against Boston University in 2016.
Blackmun, a native of Hudson, Wisc., said it was probably his first hat trick since he was a forward at the Bantam level.
“It feels great. But the best part was seeing the support of my teammates,” Blackmun said. “There were a lot of special things tonight. We really had a blast out there.”
Also scoring goals for UML were Zach Kaiser (shorthanded), Carl Berglund, Brian Chambers, Matt Brown, Nik Armstrong-Kingkade and Lucas Condotta. Condotta added three assists during his career night. Berglund picked up two assists to go with his goal, while Brown also had a three-point outing. Charlie Levesque (two assists) and Chambers tallied two points.
Armstrong-Kingkade, Matt Allen, Jordan Schulting and Josh Latta scored the first points of their UML careers. Allen had two assists in his college debut.
Bazin said it was like a game in the 1980s, when goals were much more plentiful.
Monday also marked the debut of junior goaltender Owen Savory, a heralded RPI transfer who started the second period to make his River Hawks debut. Savory turned aside 11 of 13 shots, a couple of them acrobatic saves, in relief of Logan Neaton, who was replaced after allowing three goals in the first period.
Bazin said he thought Savory performed well in a tough situation.
UML scored three goals in every period. The River Hawks peppered Victor Ostman and Matthew Thiessen with 58 shots, the most UML has managed in Tsongas Center history. UML put 57 shots on Arizona State on Jan. 30, 2016, the previous record.
The game was tied 3-3 after a wild first period. Kaiser’s shorthanded goal and Blackmun’s two goals highlighted the opening 20 minutes. The lowlight occurred when freshman defenseman Ben Meehan was issued a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting from behind.
Blackmun recorded his hat trick at 2:48 when his shot from the right point deflected in off a body in front, ending the night of Ostman. Maine (0-3-1) tied it on the second goal of the game from Eduards Tralmaks, who sent a low shot past Savory at 6:19 of the middle period with UML on the power play.
But UML scored five of the next six goals to pull away.
The bench erupted with 7:06 left in the third period when two freshmen combined for a goal which made it 8-5. Allen dished over to Armstrong-Kingkade, who sent a high shot past Thiessen for his first collegiate goal.
Condotta’s goal with 1:13 ended the scoring. At this point, the public address announcer was entering laryngitis territory and UML radio play-by-play veteran Bob Ellis was shaking off exhaustion. Calling that many goals can be taxing.
Schulting and Latta earned their first UML points on the play.