Saturday, March 12, 2016

Boyle, Lowell Take Game 1

Well, to no one's surprise tonight's Game 1 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals between Lowell and BU was tightly played and a grind-it-out type of game. Lowell picked up two power play goals and strong goaltending performance from Kevin Boyle on their way to a 3-2 win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Lowell's Joe Gambardella throws a backhanded shot on net in
the second period that Sean Maguire kicked out. He later scored
the power play for Lowell.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
BU was certainly the stronger team tonight. They generated more chances and outshot the River Hawks 35-19, including an 18-6 margin in the third. Despite that statistical dominance in the final frame, Lowell scored twice to BU's one.

After a scoreless first period that saw both teams threaten with odd man rushes, BU opening the scoring  6:22 into the second stanza. Danny O'Regan set up Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson with a pass out of the far corner. Karlsson then cut across the slot with his eyes looking for an opening. After improving his angle, he beat Boyle five hole for his 10th goal of year.

Lowell responded on the power play just over two minutes later. CJ Smith moved the puck to Joe Gambardella right in front of the net. Gambardella caught the pass on his forehand and quickly transferred it to his backhand and slipped a shot past Sean Maguire low glove side.

The third period would turn out to be one of the more frustrating frames of the year for BU. Matt Lane was absolutely robbed by Boyle on a point blank bid around five minutes in. Mike Moran generated several rebound chances with shots off the rush, but no one was ever able to bang home the loose change.

Midway through the frame, BU had a pitiful clear out of their own end. Maguire got caught playing with the puck a bit too long and the whole breakout was disrupted. The puck finally got out, but Lowell quickly regrouped in the neutral zone and reentered. Just after crossing the blue line, Michael Louria took a long range wrist shot that that nicked off Brandon Hickey's foot on the way to the net. The deflection threw off Maguire and the puck found its way in the net to give Lowell their first lead of the night.

The River Hawks made the deficit two goals less than five minutes later, again on the power play. Tommy Panico started a very pretty set up when he moved the puck to CJ Smith. Smith wasted little time as he gunned a pass through the box to Adam Chapie in the low circle on the near side. Chapie onetimed the pass into a vacant net, just beating a sprawling Maguire.

BU struck right back. Matt Grzelcyk wristed home his 11th goal of the year 22 seconds after Chapie's goal. Originally, Bobo Carpenter was credited with the goal, but on a closer look, the puck deflected off a Lowell defender and not Carpenter.

That rounded out the scoring, but BU continued to apply pressure. They had a few good looks with Maguire pulled, but could not solve Boyle again. He finished with 33 saves.

It was yet another one goal game. Another game where BU was missing just by a little. Another game the penalty kill let them down. And yet another game where the finish just wasn't there.

Game 2 is tomorrow night. Start time, 7:00

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