Makar, Minutemen Present Big Challenge
LOWELL -- Norm Bazin is 17-2-1 against UMass Amherst heading into Friday’s Hockey East battle with the Minutemen.
And UMass Lowell is 43-22-7 in the in-state rivalry since UMass joined Hockey East.
But the River Hawks will be decided underdogs when the teams meet at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
UMass (14-2-0) is the second-ranked team in the nation and undefeated (7-0-0) in Hockey East. UMass Lowell (8-8-1, 4-4-1) is sixth in Hockey East and coming off a 4-1 loss to eighth-ranked Denver.
“They’re good. I would say this is the best (UMass) team we’ve played,” Bazin said. “You have a one-game weekend and you want to make the most of it.”
UMass is led by dynamic sophomore defenseman Cale Makar, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche.
Makar is tied for second in scoring for the Minutemen with 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists). Makar, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound skater, is one of the top defenseman Hockey East has seen in many years. He’s expected to turn pro after this season.
Mitchell Chaffee (11-10-21) leads UMass in scoring.
The Minutemen have added Chelmsford’s Ryan Bliss to the roster. Bliss, a graduate transfer from Cornell, is eligible to play. He played in 53 games for Cornell prior to suffering an injury. The defenseman posted 16 points at Cornell.
He was injured and not in the lineup when Cornell fell to UMass Lowell, 5-0, in the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
UML’s next three games are on the road and that may not be a bad thing. The River Hawks are 2-5-1 at home and 6-3-0 on the road.
Ryan Lohin leads UML with 13 points in 13 games. UML is 21-11-5 all-time at the Mullins Center.
Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter@BarryScanlonSun