200301-spt-unhhockey_AMSB2794

The University of New Hampshire’s Charlie Kelleher, left, chases UMass Lowell’s Seth Barton during the first period of the Wildcats’ 3-2 Hockey East loss at the Whittemore Center in Durham on Saturday.

DURHAM — University of New Hampshire men’s hockey coach Mike Souza said his team is chasing Hockey East points after its 2-2 tie at UMass Lowell on Friday night. Despite a late push, the Wildcats did not capture any Saturday night at the Whittemore Center.

UNH provided the home crowd with some late theatrics but could not claw back, falling 3-2 to the River Hawks.

UNH (15-14-3, 9-11-2) was in ninth place and No. 12 UMass Lowell (17-10-6, 11-7-5) was tied with Maine for fourth place in the 11-team Hockey East standings entering Saturday. The top eight teams will qualify for the league’s postseason tournament.

Patrick Grasso scored a diving power-play goal off assists from Angus Crookshank and Max Gildon to cut UMass Lowell’s lead to 3-2 with 5:14 remaining. UNH had another power-play opportunity with 4:28 left but a Gildon holding call 20 seconds later wiped it out.

Crookshank scored his 14th goal of the year on a Wildcats counter rush during four-on-four play 1:55 into the third period to put UNH on the board and trim the River Hawks’ lead to 2-1. Kalle Eriksson assisted on Crookshank’s tally.

UMass Lowell took a 1-0 lead into the third period behind Sam Knoblauch’s second-period power-play goal during a five-minute major penalty on UNH senior captain Anthony Wyse.

Knoblauch scored a rebound goal while Wildcats junior goaltender Mike Robinson was down in the crease via assists from Chase Blackmun and Marek Korencik with 4:48 left before the second intermission. After review, the officials decided there was no goalie interference on the play that led Robinson (17 saves) to fall down.

Wyse received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for contact to the head with 6:55 remaining in the second period. The defenseman was also called for a slashing penalty that led to the game-tying goal by the River Hawks’ Jon McDonald in Friday’s draw. McDonald knotted the score at two goals apiece with 57.8 seconds left in regulation.

Knoblauch also opened the game’s scoring in Friday’s game.

The River Hawks doubled their advantage 23 seconds into the third period on a penalty-shot goal from Colin O’Neill. UNH sophomore forward Jackson Pierson tripped O’Neill from behind on a breakaway try to lead to the penalty-shot opportunity.

Anthony Baxter built a 3-1 UMass Lowell lead with his goal from the high slot off assists from Andre Lee and Blake Wells 5:26 into the third period.

UNH went 1-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.

UMass Lowell senior goaltender and New York Rangers draft pick Tyler Wall made 26 saves.