Notre Dame’s failed third period rally on Sunday will be its last of the season.
No. 14 Massachusetts-Lowell built a lead in the first period then held on for a 6-4 victory over Notre Dame on Sunday at the Tsongas Center, clinching the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series and a spot in the semifinals this coming week. The Irish scored twice in the third but couldn’t come all the way back after springing a Game 2 upset of Massachusetts-Lowell, its first win over the River Hawks since joining Hockey East.
Notre Dame finished the season 18-19-5 and will miss the NCAA tournament.
Defenseman Robbie Russo scored two goals and added a pair of assists Sunday in trying to bring the Irish back from a 2-0 deficit 4:17 into the game. Russo scored at 8:54 but two more Lowell goals followed for a 4-1 lead at the intermission.
Lowell (20-11-6) scored twice more in the second period with another Russo goal sandwiched between for a 6-2 lead, which chased Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen from the game between periods.
Petersen allowed six goals on 13 total shots.
Peter Schneider and Jordan Gross scored in the third period to pull Notre Dame back into the game. Russo picked up assists on both. Backup goalie Chad Katunar made four saves in relief.
Lowell took control of the series with a commanding 5-0 victory in the opener on Friday night.
C.J. Smith began the scoring at 1:02 of the first period. Terrence McGrath followed at 8:12 and Evan Campbell at 17:48 to give the River Hawks a 3-0 lead at the first intermission on 14 total shots.
Petersen played another period but allowed two more goals — Joe Gambardella scored at 1:41 and A.J. White did so at 2:46 – giving Lowell a 5-0 lead at the second intermission.
Katunar relieved Petersen, who made 17 saves, for the third period and made seven stops. Kevin Boyle made 21 saves for Lowell to preserve the shutout, a first against the Irish since Feb. 27 when Boston College did the same.
Notre Dame forced Game 3 with a 4-2 win on Saturday that required the Irish to come back twice on the River Hawks. Gambardella gave Lowell a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Sam Herr responded with a goal at 11:55 of the second to tie it before the River Hawks recaptured the lead at 15:37 when Evan Campbell made it 2-1.
Notre Dame then scored three unanswered goals in the third via Anders Bjork at 4:43, Mario Lucia at 10:30 and Schneider at 19:52 into an empty net. Petersen made 25 saves.