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October 26, 2013One play can change the course of a close hockey game. An ill-timed mistake by junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe gave UMass Lowell the boost they needed to win 2-1 and hand the Wolverines their first loss of the season.
Di Giuseppe's five-minute major for checking from behind at 7:35 of the third period was the crucial impetus UML needed to recapture the lead. Michigan head coach Red Berenson noted the frustration in taking such a penalty.
"That five-minute major was really hard to take with a tie game in the third period," he said. "We couldn't really kill it off. We were 37 seconds shy of killing it off."
The first period was close, but the few good chances belonged to UML. Michigan freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort shined, recording 12 saves. Berenson pointed to the play of his young goaltender for keeping the game scoreless.
"I thought Nagelvoort was outstanding," he said. "He gave us a chance all night."
Nagelvoort preserved the deadlock and made a series of saves as he scrambled in his crease. The Riverhawks did everything they could to find twine, but the puck stayed out.
The game was 0-0 after one period.
It didn't stay scoreless for long. Just 1:03 into the middle stanza, UML broke the tie on the power play with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Nagelvoort allowed the shot from the far boards to slide underneath his pads.
The Maize and Blue tied the game at one a mere 24 seconds later. At the 1:27 mark of the second, Evan Allen was all alone in front and took advantage of a lucky bounce off the glass. Allen found the puck at his feet, and tucked a backhand under a UML goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to knot the game. Allen commented on the strange carom that tied the game.
"Right after they scored, we dumped the puck in," he said. "Motte was forechecking hard. He threw the puck around the boards, somehow it went off the glass and came right in front. My eyes opened wide, and I just popped it in five-hole."
Michigan's second line came up empty in the third after garnering solid chances. Senior forward Derek DeBlois sent a wrist shot just over the crossbar, and junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe missed the net on Michigan's second man-advantage of the evening.
Di Giuseppe's major penalty was the turning point. The Riverhawks, meanwhile, saw the opportunity they had been patiently waiting for materialize into a five-minute power play.
The penalty-killers gave a dogged effort for the Maize and Blue. But with only 37 seconds remaining in the major, a bouncing puck landed on a UML stick, and forward Adam Chapie scored on a high wrist shot at 11:58 of the third.
Senior captain Mac Bennett summed up the frustration.
"Killing a five-minute is tough," he said. "I thought we almost had it, but too little too late. They capitalized, and we couldn't come back from that."
Di Giuseppe's one mistake loomed large for Michigan and Nagelvoort's 34-save effort. But the Wolverines' lamented their offense, too, which failed to score when it mattered most.
Berenson knows they have to score more goals when the opportunities present themselves.
"On the other hand, we need to score more than one at home," he said.
"We had three or four glorious chances in the waning seconds. Motte had an open net near the end of the game on his backhand. DeBlois and Di Giuseppe had some good ones all night. We had our chances, but just didn't capitalize."