May 11, 2017 by salucco
(Courtesy of Matt Dwyer/The Connector)
Written by Alex Salucco
UMass Lowell was one goal away from a trip to the Frozen Four just a couple of months ago. The River Hawks had the perfect balance of veteran leadership and youth with the right man to mold them together: Norm Bazin.
The departure of seniors Joe Gambardella, Dylan Zink, Michael Kapla and Evan Campbell were expected. However, C.J. Smith deciding to forgo his last year in the spindle city and sign with the Buffalo Sabres took the River Hawk faithful by surprise.
Instead of having the question be “who is going to play with Smith and Edwardh?” it’s now “which two guys are going to the top line?” Looking at the losses, it doesn’t look good. But, in Norm we trust.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
vs. UNH (2)
I think UMass Lowell takes both of these against the Wildcats. Bazin’s squad took four out of five from them last year and scored eight goals twice.
No more Tyler Kelleher is just the icing on the cake.
vs. Omaha (2)
I know they finished last season ranked 19th in RPI but they only had 17 wins and I have never been high on Peyton Manning’s favorite word.
UMass Lowell will start the season hot and take these two games at home with ease.
I always think it’s weird when someone predicts a tie in hockey but that is exactly what I’m gonna do.
Clarkson has been on the schedule the past two seasons and the teams have split the series. Although they are not a powerhouse, Clarkson has proven to give the River Hawks fits. Expect a low scoring affair.
@ St. Lawrence
The Saints are tough at home where they have posted a 36-16-3 record over the past three seasons. I don’t like how this game is the second of a back-to-back road trip and I think UMass Lowell comes out slow and drops their first game of the year.
UMass Lowell will enjoy coming back home after a loss where they will take care of Dylan Sikura and company.
I was surprised when Sikura decided to stay for a senior season, the Huskies will enjoy his presence all year but he can’t do it alone – UMass Lowell wins the second game of the home-and-home as well.
vs. Maine (2)
Red’s face is going to be red as all hell once UML puts the beat down on the Black Bears…Paul Kariya ain’t walking through that door. Get the brooms out.
I don’t think anybody is scared of these little kitties. Norm rallies the troops for an OT game winner.
I have a bad feeling about this one. I think the boys in blue will be gassed from the night before and Dylan Sikura has his way with the defense.
The Huskies have been a thorn in the River Hawks’ side for years. Over the past two seasons UML’s record against them is 0-3-1. I want to say this is the year they finally sweep them…but I thought they would each of the last two years.
They’ll split this year with the home team winning each game.
The Falcons have won a combined 27 games over the past two seasons; UMass Lowell won 27 games last year. Circle the wagons, boys. This will be a confidence booster heading into a series with BU.
I hate to say it…but UMass Lowell is not getting anything by Jake Oettinger. This is going to be brutal to watch and how UMasss Lowell fights will show what team this really is.
I think it sucks to B-UML in this series. Sweep.
The tournament will feature host Vermont, St. Lawrence and Frozen Four participant Harvard. Either draw they end up getting will be tough but because we don’t know that yet let’s say they go 1-1.
Vermont is a team that has my respect after how they responded when seniors were suspended at the beginning of last season.
With that being said, UMass Lowell takes this on their home ice…but Vermont will get their revenge eventually.
vs. UMass (not the flagship anymore)
They were ranked 58th in RPI last year…it’s gonna be a massacre. Amherst isn’t shit and Tyler Wall shuts out the “not even a minute men.”
@ Arizona State (2)
The Sun Devils were a club team three years ago and two years ago the River Hawks outscored them 12-2 in two games. Expect much of the same as ASU didn’t make much progress in year two.
@ Vermont (2)
Hippie-ville is going to make UMass Lowell dazed and confused.
The bulk of their core is back and after gaining more experience due to the suspensions the development of Brian Bowen and Ross Colton will bold well for the Catamounts this season.
Usually they “can’t-amount” to anything but they sweep UML at home.
With this guy at the helm I’m terrified. That’s the look of a man who let you feel good about your own program one year and then rip out your heart the next.
Boston College had a lot of things go wrong last year but still managed to win over 20 games. Not only will they take this series with UMass Lowell but their sweeping the season series as well.
vs American International
AIU finished last season ranked 54th in RPI. This will be a fun game to watch as UMass Lowell will most likely put up 6+ goals.
Remember what I said? BC has it this year.
@ UMass (still not the flagship)
Another massacre. They’ll score this time but only once.
I know it’s a copout, but the home team wins each game. It happened two years ago and the Friars swept the hawks last year. I’m actually leaning more towards a PU sweep then a UML one.
I have a hard time believing that Merrimack is going to take one from UMass Lowell, but it is late in the season. The rink there is smaller so that might take a little getting used to but I like the River Hawks to end their regular season in a sweep.
Final Record: 21-12-1 (13-10-0)
I think this team will need to win the Hockey East tournament for a shot at the NCAA tourney this year. They just don’t have the non-conference opponents to give them that boost in the pairwise rankings.
I expect this team to go deep in the HE tourney but a Saturday night game at the TD Garden seems unlikely.