Hockey East Preview: #2 Lowell River Hawks
2011-12 Storyline: Under the leadership of first year coach Norm Bazin the River Hawks complete one of the most improbable turnarounds in college hockey history
2012-13 Storyline: The pressure will be on Lowell to repeat the magic as they return most of last year’s squad
Player To Watch: Scott Wilson F (16-22-38)
Player Missed Most: Matt Ferreira F (14-18-32)
Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Michael Fallon F
Random Fact: Lowell will look to make the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history
Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: Just over the state line in Nashua, New Hampshire is Martha’s Exchange Restaurant and Brewery. I’ve only had their stuff at beer fests, but they’re definitely recommended. I might have to mix up the usual pregame routine at Lowell Beer Works someday and make a visit to the source
Lowell took everyone by surprise going from just four Hockey East victories in 2010-11 to 2nd place in the league and the NCAA tournament last season. That won’t happen this year as the coaches and fans expect the River Hawks to be among the top two teams in the conference this year. Yet, they’ll still have to prove themselves to some of the doubters out there who call what Lowell did last year a fluke.
One of the reasons many think Lowell can push Boston College for the league title is the fact that they basically didn’t lose much from last year. Sure, they’ll miss the likes of David Vallorani and Matt Ferreira, but if stars like sophomore Scott Wilson and junior Derek Arnold continue to develop and they get contributions from guys like Terrence Wallin and Josh Holmstrom, they won’t have problems replacing the scoring they lost. Personally I’m interested to see what Joe Pendenza does this coming year, as he’s one of the hardest working forwards in the conference.
Seniors Malcolm Lyles and F/D Colin Wright and junior Chad Ruhwedel are the upperclassmen at defense this year. Yet they also return a couple of sophomores who all played well in their first year in the form of Jake Suter and Zack Kamrass. Keep an eye on highly regarded redshirt freshman Dmitri Sinitsyn who started classes at Lowell mid-season last year but didn’t play.
At the start of last year Doug Carr was coming off a sub-par freshman year and was supposed to battle fellow sophomore Marc Boulanger for playing time all season. Instead he ended up having one of the best statistical seasons among all the country’s goaltenders. He’ll look to be as good if not better as he enters his junior year. If he stumbles though look for freshman Connor Hellebuyck, a Winnipeg draft pick, to get a chance instead.
They’ll Finish Lower Because: The pressure and expectations to win proves to be too much
They’ll Finish Higher Because: All their star players from forwards to defensemen to goaltender are a year older and a year better
Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
2. Lowell River Hawks
3. Boston University Terriers
4. New Hampshire Wildcats
5. Providence Friars
6. Maine Black Bears
7. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview 10/10)
8. Merrimack Warriors
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Vermont Catamounts
UMass Sports Weekly sits down with Kevin Boyle to talk about pre-season polls, pizza, and opposing crowds:
I’m looking forward to seeing the team on the ice tomorrow during the 4pm scrimmage at the practice rink. I’ll be looking to see if there is any noticeable difference in play style under Micheletto at this early point, who of the three goaltenders look good in net, and getting a first glance at most of the freshman after reading and writing about them for so long. Of course I’m equally as interested to see what Stoney has on tap at the Hangar. I’ll have a recap of what I see on Sunday.