Friday thoughts: ATLien
Zack Kamrass picked one hell of a time to play the game of his young career.
The freshman defenseman, who no one has talked about as having a really strong second half of the season, scored the late game-winner and assisted on Lowell’s second goal, and breathed life back into Lowell’s season when things were looking really quite dark, as the River Hawks eventually won a nail-biter over an all-too-persistent Providence side, 3-2 in overtime.
The game began to take a dire shape for Lowell midway through the second period, with the River Hawks having been pushed around for most of the first — as they had the night previous — and though they pried loose their first two-goal lead of the weekend early in the second, it was dashed in less than two minutes not long after that. It was, suffice it to say, an eventful opening 40 minutes, and then things got really interesting.
The night began rather inauspiciously for the hosts, who found themselves skating in knee-deep mud for the fourth consecutive period thanks to both a tenacious Friar forecheck and a fair number of unforced miscues, including passing that the word “inaccurate” doesn’t quite begin to describe. Through the first 10 minutes of the game, or maybe even slightly longer than that, Lowell had a paltry single shot on goal and it looked for all the world like the Friars were going to cobble together a performance reminiscent of their second period on Thursday. But even as the tough sledding persisted, the River Hawks began to threaten a bit here and there until the final five minutes of so of the period looked like, well, last weekend’s Lowell/Providence games. Alex Beaudry was under siege and did quite well to keep his team in it, even in conceding on a brilliant bit of adventuring through the offensive zone by Chad Ruhwedel to net Lowell’s first goal.
So it was that Lowell entered the first intermission in much the same way it did on Thursday: With a tenuous 1-0 lead despite getting outplayed for the considerable majority of the period. And yet, there was a single difference: Tim Schaller, the heralded savior of Providence’s postseason chances, had taken a truly dimwitted penalty just prior to the intermission — a roughing call in front of his own net as his teammates were taking the puck in transition and were indeed already out past their own blue line — and would therefore be sitting in the box with Lowell on the power play when the second frame began.
And lo, it came to pass that on this power play, the puck did come to Kamrass, who did uncork one from the point and create a mad scramble in front in which Matt Ferreira, who is himself having a heck of a weekend, was able to put the puck home and stake Lowell to a 2-0 lead (though this was, as you might expect, not possible without first giving the play a thorough review so that the officials could search for any way available to them to disallow the goal. Such is life in Hockey East).
Speaking of reviews, after a little bit of back and forth in which Lowell admittedly came out looking a bit better, it also seemed to accomplish what would have been a dagger for the Friars: On another scramble in front, the puck seemed to cross the line to give the River Hawks a 3-0 lead. The Lowell players celebrated, a Providence defenseman swatted the puck away in disgust, referee Tom Quinn pointed to signal goal. And then after roughly a quarter second of what we’re sure was the carefullest consideration, he instead waived the apparent goal off. A review determined, well, something. Certainly enough to prove that no goal had been scored, and the score remained 2-0 to Lowell.
That swing in momentum seemed to enliven Providence, which then regained its earlier form and wound up scoring twice in less than two minutes. The first came on an absolute bomb through traffic from Myles Harvey, and the second a chintzy rebound for Stefan Demopoulos, and suddenly, a game that looked so wrapped up — what with Lowell leading by two and buzzing angrily — was fully in doubt, especially because Doug Carr, who turned in a spectacular performance, needed to make a number of top-quality saves to preserve the tie in the middle frame’s dying seconds.
The third period did little to reassure Lowell partisans that their team was going to come out on top, as the lowly visitors outshot their lordly hosts 12-5 in the final 20 minutes and seemed far more resolved to prevent Lowell from generating any kind of notable offensive-zone possession than it had at any other point in the evening. Though neither team scored in the period (obviously), the ice seemed decidedly tilted against Lowell, and we entered extra time with an odd and wholly uncomfortable feeling in our stomachs.
What we saw when play resumed did little to quell our misgivings. Providence once again drove play, hitting a pair of posts (one on a shorthanded break) and generally bringing more menace than Lowell. But from great adversity often comes great opportunity, and a bout of Friar possession in the attacking zone allowed Lowell’s waterbug group of Joe Pendenza, Shayne Thompson and, of course, Kamrass to take the puck the other way on a lightning-quick transition.
Kamrass was the one who got the whole thing started, lugging the puck off the halfboards and across his own blue line, spotting Pendenza on the opposite wing while Thompson skated to the front of the net. This allowed Kamrass to break in uncovered as the trailer for the 3-on-2, and when Pendenza’s to-the-far-post-by-design shot was kicked out by Beaudry, it was kicked out down Main Street. Kamrass had the puck on his stick, 24 square feet of net yawning at him, and nothing better to do on Sunday afternoon. At that point, he hadn’t scored yet in his college career, but he wasn’t about to miss.
The freshman, who has seven points in his last four games (all against Providence), slotted the puck home and was mauled by his teammates behind the net. Hysteria at the Tsongas Center. Lowell would live to fight another day.