Looking In On UMass – Lowell


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The UNIVERSITY of MASSACHUSETTS – LOWELL will skate in State College for the first time ever while facing off against PENN STATE as the brand new PEGULA ICE ARENA hosts the very first Thursday night game in the facility’s very short-lived history.

UMASS – LOWELL (6-4-0), who are currently ranked # 16 in the USCHO.com poll and # 13 in the USA Today/USA Hockey survey, will arrive in Happy Valley having just defeated Ivy League hosts Princeton University 2-1 in New Jersey on Tuesday. The River Hawks actually entered this 2013/14 NCAA campaign ranked number one in the entire nation after reaching the Frozen Four for the first time in school history last term but were upset 2-1 in their very first game of this new season by lowly Sacred Heart University, a program that posted a record of two wins against 30 losses with four ties a year ago. The reigning Hockey East champions, who concluded the 2012/13 campaign with a mark of 28 wins against 11 losses with two ties, have already contested a pair of matches with Big Ten opponents and celebrated victories on the road at Michigan State (4-1) as well as Michigan (2-1) earlier this season.

UMass – Lowell does return almost all of its key players from last season’s squad but did lose joint top goal-scorer RILEY WETMORE (now skating in the American Hockey League with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers) as well as CHAD RUHWEDEL, the undrafted defenseman who skated seven games in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres at the conclusion of the college campaign last term and is now currently assigned to the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

Canadian legionnaire SCOTT WILSON, the junior left wing from Oakville, Ontario, who was the seventh round selection (# 209 overall) of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2011 NHL Draft, is back as is center JOSEPH PENDENZA, the homegrown senior from Wilmington. Both Wilson and Pendenza finished in a tie for the UMass – Lowell scoring leadership having totaled 38 points in 41 NCAA games last season while it was Wilson who ended up level on 16 goals with Wetmore. Also on hand once again is right wing DEREK ARNOLD, the homegrown senior from Norwood who wound up third on the scoring chart with 30 points for the River Hawks last term.

One good indication of the depth that UMass – Lowell enjoy is evidenced the fact that Wilson, Pendenza and Arnold all skate on different lines.

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UMass – Lowell left wing SCOTT WILSON (23), the slender (6’0″ 172 lbs) seventh round NHL draft choice of the Pittsburgh Penguins who was honored as the Hockey East Rookie of the Year at the conclusion of the 2011/12 campaign, potted 16 goals in each of his first two collegiate seasons and currently boasts a career total of 33 goals from 88 NCAA games.
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CHRIS MANICCIA, the undrafted Canadian legionnaire from St. Catherines, Ontario, who scored his second goal of this season on the road at Princeton University on Tuesday night, is one newcomer for the River Hawks who has adjusted well to college hockey thus far while freshman center EVAN CAMPBELL, the Canadian import from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, who was tabbed by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round (# 128 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft this past summer, is pointless in six games for UMass – Lowell.

The top two goaltenders for the River Hawks have both been receiving plenty of ice time from head coach NORM BRAZIN once again this season. CONNOR HELLEBUYCK, the pride of Commerce, Michigan, who was picked in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets and posted sensational numbers as a freshman (24 ga, 1.37 avg, .952 save pct) while backstopping UMass – Lowell to the Frozen Four, has slipped a bit in his first six starts as a sophomore but only just (2.21 avg, .925 save pct). DOUGLAS CARR, the homegrown product of Hanover who had seen his overall production decline as a junior (19 ga, 2.71 avg, .897 save pct), has been in very good form to begin his final collegiate campaign (4 ga, 1.98 avg, .925 save pct).

Considering the fact that it was the senior Carr who appeared in the victory over Princeton on Tuesday, it is, therefore, most likely that the Nittany Lions will have to contend with the sophomore Hellebuyck when Penn State drop the puck with visiting UMass – Lowell at the Pegula Ice Arena on Thursday night.

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