River Hawks Feeling Refreshed
LOWELL -- They didn’t play last weekend.
After this weekend, they won’t play again until Dec. 29. And the opponent Friday and Saturday is Boston University.
To say the UMass Lowell hockey team is ready to go for the two Hockey East games is an understatement.
“We’re energized. We’re fresh,” senior captain Connor Wilson said. “We’re ready to go. There’s nothing to hold back. It makes us focus even more on this weekend. It’s not easy. Every team is great in this league. But our fate’s in our own hands. We’re going to need to be ready because they’re a great team.”
Under first-year head coach Albie O’Connell, the Terriers (4-7-2, 4-4-2 Hockey East) are off to a slow start.
But make no mistake, BU, which has 12 National Hockey League draft picks on its roster, is loaded with talent.
“We’re just looking forward to playing hockey games,” UML head coach Norm Bazin said. “It’s going to get the blood flowing a little bit. I think it will be a good weekend. We’re going to have a few kids available to us that weren’t available before the layoff. That’s good.”
Boston University holds a commanding 74-30-9 advantage in the series. Under Bazin, however, the River Hawks are 12-7-1 against the Terriers in 20 meetings.
Two of BU’s top scorers are defensemen. Dante Fabbro (3 goals, 9 assists) leads with 12 points, while Chad Krys (3-5-8) is third. Bobo Carpenter (6-3-9) is BU’s top scoring forward.
“This is the most active team we’ve played on the back end all season,” Bazin said. “It shows with their scoring. A defenseman is leading their team in scoring. It’s more like a five-man attack.”
Former Central Catholic High School star Jake Wise has two assists in 12 games as a BU freshman.
Jake Oettinger is one of the most highly regarded goalies in the country. He’s 4-7-2 with a 2.65 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
Junior forwards Ryan Lohin (6-5-11) and Kenny Hausinger (5-5-10) continue to lead UML (7-6-1, 3-3-1) in scoring. Junior Tyler Wall is enjoying a nice rebound season.
He’s 5-4-1 with a 1.80 goals against average and a .933 save percentage for UML.
ROAD WARRIORS: So far, the River Hawks have been a better road team than home team this season, compiling a 5-3-0 road record compared to their 2-3-1 mark at the Tsongas Center.
“We put a lot of focus on it. Everybody’s got their routines. You have the mindset that you’re on the road and anything can happen,” Wilson said. “You get to gain your own energy, your own momentum. We’ve done a good job of that.”
A couple of seasons ago UML sported the best road record in the nation.
BU dominated UML in the lone meeting at the Agganis Arena last winter, 9-3.
BU hosts the River Hawks on Friday at 7:30 p.m., with Saturday’s game in Lowell set for 7 p.m.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on playing well on the road,” Bazin said
LOOSE PUCKS: Sophomore forward Connor Sodergren, a Tewksbury native, leads the River Hawks with a +7 plus/minus rating. Sophomore defenseman Anthony Baxter and freshman defenseman Jon McDonald are tied for second at +5. ... All 13 members of UML’s giant freshmen class have now seen action after defenseman Nolan Sawchuk played twice against RPI. Sawchuk has worked hard to return to the ice after undergoing double hip surgery. Before the season, Bazin said it was possible that Sawchuk might miss the entire 2018-19 campaign. Sawchuk picked up his first collegiate point with an assist against RPI. ... UML is one of only four Hockey East teams with a winning record.
Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter@BarryScanlonSun