- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Jason Rubinstein, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 24, 2014
LOWELL, Mass. — With 1:52 left in the second period, UMass-Lowell netminder Kevin Boyle took the skate of shame toward the bench. River Hawks’ coach Norm Bazin had seen enough of his starter’s porous play, pulling him from the game.
He’d also seen enough of Zach Hyman.
At the 18:08 mark in the second period, Hyman received a puck from the slot and immediately fired. Boyle never saw the puck. All he saw was his Gatorade bottle flying in the air after Hyman sniped one home to record his first career hat trick en route to No. 14 Michigan’s 8-4 win over the seventh-ranked River Hawks.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” Hyman said of his hat trick. “It was my first my first hat trick of my college career. I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates.”
Added Michigan coach Red Berenson: “It was good to see a guy like Zach Hyman, who has been hard working, team player for three years, to light it up like this. And good for him because he earned it.”
The Wolverines (2-2-0) knew the Tsongas Center would be loud and hostile with Friday being the River Hawks’ homecoming game.
But the second line of Hyman, freshman forward Dylan Larkin and sophomore forward Alex Kile had no trouble silencing the 6,753 fans in attendance. Two minutes into the second period, the trio started its clinic. On a 3-on-2, Larkin fed Kile along the boards who passed it to Hyman who found twine.
Thirty-one seconds later, the River Hawks (2-1-1) got a goal of their own to cut the lead to one. But the comeback wouldn’t last long.
Déjà vu struck when Kile received a puck along the boards, outskated the River Hawks’ defense and fed the puck to Hyman who notched his second goal of the game.
But once again, UMass-Lowell responded with a goal and the crowd erupted. Minutes later, freshman forward Dexter Dancs got tangled up with AJ White after the whistle, which led to deafening roars. To counter the noise, as he had all game, Berenson looked no further than to his second line.
Sophomore defenseman Michael Downing fired the puck at Boyle from the blue line, who let up a rebound. This time, Larkin batted the puck home for his first goal of the season. More so, Hyman, Larkin and Kile combined for 12 points in the game.
What is accounting for the trio’s success?
“We’ve played together now since the beginning of the year,” Hyman said. “So Dylan, myself and Alex have really gelled and I think it was due, and it was good to get on board today.”
Added Berenson: “It’s confidence. The three of them just have something going now and that’s why you have lines together. Eleven or 12 hours ago, we didn't have a line that I could tell you was scoring goals.”
And those goals came at an opportune time as Michigan’s forwards scored just four goals in their first three games. Through two periods on Friday, Berenson’s forwards combined for six.
Kile found the net first when he capitalized on the rebound chance at the 10:37 mark in the first period, his second goal of the season.
Berenson said this week it was a matter of time before Dancs found twine, and Dancs justified his coach’s words when he put in a rebound opportunity in the third frame. Later, freshman defenseman Zach Werenski notched his first goal of the season after Hyman found him in front of the net.
Lost in the scoring barrage was junior netminder Steve Racine’s performance. Racine got the nod for the second consecutive game and stopped 27 shots in the victory.
But it was for good reason. Hyman notched his first hat trick and skated off the ice as the true homecoming king.