Yesterday, Tim Fontenault previewed the Yale Bulldogs. Today I look at their opponent, UMass-Lowell. Lowell ended the season on a high note and outright won the Hockey East regular season and tournament championship. Let's take a deeper look at what this team brings to the table and what it needs to do to make a Frozen Four run.
Team: UMass-Lowell, 28-10-2
Nickname: River Hawks
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts
How they got here: The River Hawks were on upset alert against WCHA Tournament Champion Wisconsin. The Badgers also came into the tournament on a streak and everyone liked the way they were playing, except for Lowell. Lowell beat Bucky convincingly by a score of 6-1. In their next contest, the River Hawks squared off against a familiar Hockey East foe and regional host in New Hampshire. In a very competitive game, the River Hawks squeaked out a 2-0 victory on the back of a 28-save shutout by goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Here's what you really need to know: in its last 15 games, Lowell has lost once.
Player to Watch: Connor Hellebuyck. This season, Hellebuyck posted an outstanding record of 20-2 in 23 games. He has been seeing the puck all season long and with a strong team in front of him, he's been capitalizing on his chances to make saves. Hellebuyck's shutout over the hometown Wildcats last game shows that the kid is ready to perform on college hockey's biggest stage. The most amazing thing about him? He's a freshmen.
Keys to beating Yale: Stay out of the box. In their first game against Wisconsin, the River Hawks committed too many penalties. They toned it down next game against UNH, but they cannot let Yale get any extra scoring chances. Yale is a Cinderella team and will have the crowd support in Pittsburgh, but Lowell needs to stay focused and keep playing with the same edge they've played with during the last month. I expect leading scorer Scott Wilson to put on a performance against the Bulldogs and continue to be one of the most exciting players to watch in the country. This is the River Hawks first ever trip to the Frozen Four and they could be punching their first ever trip to the NCAA Championship on Thursday.
Now Check Out: Tim Fontenault's look at UMass-Lowell's opponent Yale
Also Check Out: Preview for St. Cloud State