For a trio of River Hawks, Saturday was a perfect homecoming.
Doherty High School grad Josh Holmstrom set up Joseph Pendenza for the game-winning goal 7:16 into the third period to help UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin and associate coach Jason Lammers enjoy a 3-1 win over Colorado College at the World Arena. It was a much-needed rebound for the ninth-ranked River Hawks (1-1-1), who were blasted 5-1 at No. 7 Denver on Friday.
“This is a special place,” said Bazin, who was an assistant for CC from 2000-08. “I was fortunate to work under a great coach, Scott Owens, and I have a lot of great memories. We knew playing such a well-coached Colorado College team was going to be a tall task, but we were able to get (the win).”
UMass-Lowell added an empty-netter by Stephen Buco with 29.8 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
“This was big for us,” said Holmstrom, a junior who played for the Colorado Rampage while living in Colorado Springs. “Last night, we got caught sitting around a little bit, and so our strategy tonight was to play strong in the D zone and try to win footraces all over the ice. All of my family and friends were in Denver last night and here tonight, and it felt great to have all that support.”
A picture-perfect day, during which UMass-Lowell visited Garden of the Gods, welcomed the River Hawks to town hours after the loss in Denver. That lopsided defeat seemed to motivate the River Hawks, who were hungry and aggressive against the Tigers (3-1).
“More than the homecoming, we needed to get in the win column this year,” Bazin said. “Last night contributed, in the sense that we didn’t think we put our best foot forward. Thankfully, guys responded from last night and we played better hockey tonight.”
The River Hawks grabbed a 1-0 lead when freshman forward Ryan McGrath took a ricochet and skated his way to a breakaway goal 10:27 into the game. That was the score until CC sophomore Aaron Harstad fired a shot from the blue line that clanged in off the left post with 6:35 left in the second.
Owens felt his team was flat after an emotional 6-2 win at Air Force on Friday.
“We were mentally off and dull in a few areas,” Owens said. “We had a little of an emotional hangover. We actually felt decent being 1-1 in the third, and it was just a matter of who was going to blink first.”
Lost in the shuffle was a strong game by CC goalie Josh Thorimbert, who made 36 saves.