UMass Lowell vs Clarkson University hockey. UML’s Joe Pendenza is congratulated by teammates including Josh Holmstrom (12), facing, and A.J. White
UMass Lowell vs Clarkson University hockey. UML's Joe Pendenza is congratulated by teammates including Josh Holmstrom (12), facing, and A.J. White (18), after scoring a goal which gave UML a 1-0 lead in the first period. (SUN/Julia Malakie)

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LOWELL -- In front of a post-Herculean snowstorm crowd of 3,457 at the Tsongas Center, the ninth-ranked UMass Lowell hockey team returned home after their holiday break to host 12th-ranked Clarkson University in a non-conference match.

In a game dominated by defensive hockey and outstanding goaltending, the two national contenders skated to a 1-1 overtime tie.

The River Hawks are now 13-5-1 overall. Clarkson is 12-5-2.

This was the second game between the two clubs in six days and it looked like there would be no love lost as River Hawk Chris Maniccia and Golden Knight Ben Sexton were assessed hitting after the whistle penalties just 19 seconds into the game.

The hard hitting, physical play would continue throughout the period.

UMass Lowell’s Joe Pendenza collides with Clarkson’s Perry D’Arrisso after scoring a goal in Friday night’s game, setting off a
UMass Lowell's Joe Pendenza collides with Clarkson's Perry D'Arrisso after scoring a goal in Friday night's game, setting off a celebration with teammates including Josh Homlstrom (left) and A.J. White. SUN PHOTOS/JULIA MALAKIE

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UML established the territorial edge early with good puck management and a strong forecheck, which paid off at the 7:02 mark of the period when senior Joe Pendenza opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the season, assisted by captain Josh Holmstrom.

"I ended up losing the draw," Pendenza explained when talking about his goal. "Scott Wilson made a great play getting to the puck first and looked over his shoulder, saw me in the slot and made a really nice pass. I just got it off my stick as fast as possible and it ended up going in."

The River Hawks continued their dominance over the Golden Knights throughout the period and enjoyed the better scoring chances but Clarkson netminder Steve Perry held the fort.

The first period ended with UML holding a 1-0 lead and a 10-8 advantage in shots on goal.

Period two was a defensive battle between the two clubs. UML excelled at taking away CU's passing lanes in the neutral zone while Clarkson was strong at keeping River Hawk shooters on the outside of the ice negating good scoring opportunities.

Both goaltenders -- Clarkson's Perry and UML's Doug Carr -- made the saves needed to keep their teams in the game and the period ended with the River Hawks maintaining their 1-0 lead.

The third period was one that belonged to each club's special teams as each squad picked up three minor penalties in the frame. Perry and Carr were tested throughout the period but each proved to be the best penalty killers on the ice. Neither club could find the back of the net with their man advantages.

With time winding down and teams skating at even strength, Clarkson finally dented Carr when Sam Labrecque fired a shot past the netminder to tie the game at 1-1, which is how it looked at the end of regulation.

Although the Golden Knights got themselves into penalty trouble by taking two consecutive minor penalties in the final 31 seconds of overtime, Perry would stand tall and the contest would end in a 1-1 tie.

After the game, Carr was asked about his performance but he quickly deferred to his teammates.

"It's all about being a five-man unit working in front of me," said Carr, who improved his record to 6-1-1. "I think the biggest key is to get better every day."

River Hawks coach Norm Bazin, who revealed that goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has an upper body injury and could miss some time on the ice, was pleased with his team's showing but saw room for improvement.

"I was pleased with our penalty kill," the coach said. "We generated 39 shots. I thought the third period was our best period despite killing off six minutes in penalties, we generated 17 shots so those are the positives from today.

"I didn't think we were overly sharp but at the same time, they're (Clarkson) a very good opponent and they found a way to get back into the game and tie it up but overall it was good hockey game for both teams."

The two teams will meet again Saturday at the Tsongas Center. Faceoff will be at 4 pm.