Lowell An Early-Season Success Story
by Joshua Seguin/CHN Reporter
LOWELL, Mass. After a dismal season a year ago, going 5-25-4, Massachussets-Lowell is impressing this season with balanced scoring and strong goaltending from Doug Carr.
Friday, Lowell, a program that was facing possible extinction a few years ago, played before a record crowd at Tsongas Arena of 6,826 and defeated New Hampshire, 3-2.
On the season, 19 different River Hawks players have registered at least a point and four different players are tied for the team lead with 12. With all four lines scoring for the River Hawks, Lowell has propelled itself into the top tier of teams offensively in Hockey East and is scoring one goal per game more than a year ago.
“Everyone is contributing this year for us,” said senior UMass-Lowell forward David Vallorani. “I think we are doing a good balancing it this year. It’s awesome that different guys are scoring for us. It’s exciting.”
Led by 20 underclassmen on the roster and seven dressed on the four forward lines, the River Hawks have improved their game mightily over last season. It is these players mixed in with some of the more experienced players, such as David Vallorani, Matt Ferreira and Riley Wetmore, that are scoring and scoring in bunches.
Interestingly, Lowell's top four scorers spread out across the classes. Senior Matt Ferreira, junior Riley Wetmore, sophomore Chad Ruhwedel, and freshman Scott Wilson are all tied with 12 points.
“I think a lot of lines are able to contribute for us,” said UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “On any given night a lot of guys and lines are capable to get on the score sheet. It’s all about who contributes on a given night for us.
Meanwhile, it was an offensive-minded defenseman, Chad Ruhwedel, that also stood out.
Even though Ruhwedel scored only one point on the night, on an assist midway through the first period, his play stood out as a defenseman because he always seemed to be making the right play. With two goals and 10 assists, Ruhwedel’s is providing something that did not happen last year for Lowell. Only less than halfway through the season this season, Ruhwedel is only four points away from eclipsing the total of UML’s top defensemen scorer of last year, who had a mere 16 points.
All of this makes it a lot easier on the goaltending. Carr has quietly come out of nowhere to be one of the best goalies in Hockey East. Giving up only 1.63 goals per game and keeping 94 percent of shots out of the net, Carr has quietly brought a spotlight on himself, which many at the beginning of the season questioned was possible, which is a relief after last season's porous goaltending.
“(Carr) has been impressive for us and timely,” said Norm Bazin. "I felt that his performance tonight was his best in the last three games and that is saying a lot because his last two games were shutouts.”
Coming into the game against New Hampshire, Carr was carrying a shutout streak of nearly 129 minutes. In Carr’s starts this season the River Hawks are 7-1-0 and Carr has been making some impressive saves along the way. Friday, Carr made 33 saves, including 18 in the third period.
With two wins against Maine up in Orono, a convincing win against Boston University, and against New Hampshire, Lowell continues to turn heads in the region. A few more victories against the elites of the league may begin to propel the River Hawks into bigger conversations come seasons end.
“We have a good hockey club,” said Norm Bazin. “When we play good hockey teams, like we did tonight, we need to show up and play 60 minutes. We just want to prove something every night.”