Harvard fell behind early in only its second shutout setback of the season (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's hockey team could not overcome two goals scored in the first period as it fell to UMass Lowell, 5-0, in a non-conference matchup Monday night at the Bright Hockey Center.
Raphael Girard made 27 saves in net for Harvard (4-4-1), while Conor Hellebuyk made 30 stops for UMass-Lowell (6-7-1). The River Hawks owned a slight edge on shots, 32-30.
Joseph Pendenza and Jake Suter paced UMass-Lowell with two points apiece, each on a goal and an assist.
With 15 minutes remaining in the first period, Desmond Bergin put a hard shot on net from just outside the left circle, but Hellebuyck made the stop to keep the game scoreless.
Just over 60 ticks later, the River Hawks got on the board when Riley Wetmore passed it off to Josh Holmstrom, who found Dmitry Sinistyn in front of the net. Sinistyn shot through traffic and placed the puck under Girard's glove with 13:57 remaining in the period.
The Crimson, which came into the game with 29 of 31 penalties killed this season, gave up an uncharacteristic power play goal with less than five minutes remaining in the first period. Moments after Luke Greiner made his way to the penalty box for charging, Pendenza fed Chad Ruhwedel off a faceoff, and the junior defenseman registered his first score of the season to give UMass Lowell an early two-goal cushion.
Harvard was not without its opportunities in the second stanza. Jimmy Vesey had a chance from close-range early, while Bergin took a shot right in front of the net minutes later, but Hellebuyk kept the puck out of the cage both times.
Girard and the Harvard defense clamped down in the second period, allowing just eight shots on goal and stopping a bevy of attempts with around 9:30 remaining, including one from directly in front of the net by Terrence Wallin.
During a scurry in the front of the cage midway through the third period, Kyle Criscuolo could not push the puck past Hellebuyk as the Crimson remained scoreless.
Girard made a difficult, diving save on a hard shot by Ryan McGrath with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game to keep the score at 2-0, but the River Hawks tallied a trio of goals in the final minutes to secure the win.
The first came with 5:59 remaining, when Michael Colantone found Ryan McGrath in the corner. The freshman turned around and passed the puck to Suter, who blasted the puck by Girard from the point for his first collegiate goal.
Scott Wilson skated quickly down the ice with 2:30 remaining for a score off helpers from Suter and Derek Arnold to give UMass-Lowell a commanding 4-0 lead. With 42.5 seconds left in the game, Riley Wetmore fed Pendenza from the corner, and the Wilmington, Mass., product posted the fifth and final goal of the contest for the River Hawks on a power play as Harvard suffered just its second shutout loss of the season.
The Crimson will have nearly three weeks to rest up before taking on Northeastern at home Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.