By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – UMass Lowell may not always be linked to Boston College and Boston University, two clubs that have experienced a great deal of success in the college hockey world over the past few decades, but this season the River Hawks turned the tables by capturing their first Hockey East regular season crown and conference championship on Saturday with a 1-0 victory against the Terriers at the TD Garden.
Derek Arnold secured the win for UML as he corralled the puck behind the BU cage and netted the game-winner at 11:09 in the third, which sent the Blue and Red supporters into a frenzy.
“It’s pretty special,” Arnold said of his game-winning strike. “I had a large group of family here tonight, they were in a box, and growing up me and my dad used to come every year (and we’d see) BC and BU win this tournament every year, so it’s very, very special for Lowell to win it.”
Arnold’s late-game strike wasn’t his first in this year’s conference tournament as he netted the game-winner against Maine last Friday in overtime to secure the River Hawks a trip to Causeway Street.
When it came to his goal this evening – a wraparound – Arnold explained his short stick hasn’t always allowed him to score that way, but something worked tonight as he deposited the puck into Sean Maguire’s net to seal the win.
“(The puck) went off Scott Wilson’s skate and it kind of went almost to the corner, but I was kind of down deep and it kind of went right on my stick and Maguire was way out of the net, so I just saw some daylight like I said and I took it to the net,” said Arnold.
“I’m usually not too successful on wraparounds because I’ve got a small stick, but for tonight to get that it was pretty cool.”
UML had never won a conference championship and lost its two meetings against BU in 1994 and 2009, but the third time proved to be the difference.
“We have some confidence and once we get rolling we’re rolling,” explained Arnold. “We had an 11 or 12 game unbeaten streak earlier (this season), and we won the regular season, so now we win this and hopefully we’ll see what happens tomorrow and see where we’re going, so it should be cool.
“Last year we got bounced out in that last game down in Bridgeport, so (we’re) hoping for a better result this year.”