Sacred Heart upsets top-ranked Massachusetts-Lowell as George nets pair

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In what could stand out as the biggest upset of the season down the road, and certainly the biggest of this extremely young campaign, Sacred Heart took down No. 1 Massachusetts-Lowell by a final tally of 2-1 Friday night.

The Pioneers victory spoiled a banner-raising opening night before an attendance of 5,349 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.

“Wow,” was the initial reaction from Sacred Heart coach C.J. Marottolo. “I thought we played a really structured, discipline game. I was happy with our energy lever the whole game.”

The Pioneers are coming off a year in which the club earned a mere two victories. They halved that total with Friday night’s win.

Just a minute and a half after the River Hawks tied the contest with a third-period goal from Joseph Pendenza, the Pioneers picked up the eventual game-winner.

Off of an offensive-zone faceoff, Ben Lake won the puck and quickly sent it over to an open Drew George, who quickly fired a shot from the slot that beat Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

“The turning point for me was after Lowell scored,” said Marottolo. “They got a big lift, you could feel it. But our guys responded. I was proud of how we responded all night.”

“Ben Lake just won that draw right to me,” said George. “I had a lot of room on the blocker side and just put it right there.”

George’s game-winning goal was his second of the game.

The junior winger broke the ice with a power-play notch at 3:48 of the first period when an attempted clear was accidentally stopped at the blue line by Scott Wilson.

After a battle below the goal line, the puck was sent out to open space, destined to scale the length of the ice. However, an ill-advised knock down of the puck led to a turnover in the River Hawks’ zone. Freshman defenseman David Iacono then took possession and fired a wide shot that was tipped by George for the first goal of the season. The assist marked Iacono’s first career point.

“Once we got that quick lead, everybody just kind of looked around and said, ‘Hey we can play with these guys,'” said Marottolo. “We just fueled off of each other’s confidence.”

Early in the third Period, the River Hawks drew even when Pendenza tipped a shot from Michael Kapla past Alex Vazzano and into the net.

“I didn’t think we played very well,” said UML coach Norm Bazin. “Overall, I think when you give up a faceoff goal, a penalty goal against, and go 0-for-5 on the power-play, you don’t deserve to win.”

It is a quick turnaround for both teams. The Pioneers play host to RPI tomorrow afternoon, while Mass.-Lowell welcomes Massachusetts to the Tsongas Center.

“That’s the beauty of hockey,” said Bazin. “This is one game and you’ve got to put it behind you. Win, lose or draw, we’ve got to have a better effort. I’m thankful that we have a game tomorrow.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Normally root for H.E. teams against other conferences, but happy for Sacred Heart and their coach. By the way, you might want to change the name of the Sacred Heart AD on their team page. They only made the change about six months ago. Some guy named Valentine…..

  2. As an alum and a huge fan, its been a tough four years since coach Hannah left. Just a downward spiral. I hope the Pioneers are finally turning the corner. Either way, this was a blast! I listened on the radio and the Lowell announcers didn’t even know how to call it. They were shocked. Wish I could have been there. Go Heart!

  3. I really wish Bazin could get his team ready to play at the start of the season just once. All due respect to Sacred Heart, this is a giant black mark on UML and Bazin. Three years in a row Lowell has come out flat out of the gate. Time to rethink the off season conditioning programs coach!

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