There might not be a team in Hockey East better equipped for a deep postseason run than the River Hawks.
Lowell narrowly missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season, but return this season with a stacked roster teeming with veteran leadership and balanced scoring.
In total, Lowell returns its top-six scorers from last season, highlighted by sophomore C.J. Smith (35 points), senior Adam Chapie (31 points) and juniors Joe Gambardella (30 points) and Evan Campbell (27 points).
With no major departures at forward, the River Hawks should continue to roll out the same high-powered offense that finished second in the conference at 3.44 goals per game.
Lowell did take a bit of a hit defensively with the loss of seniors Zack Kamrass and Jake Suter, but the Hawks still return four starting defensemen, including juniors Dylan Zink and Michael Kapla — both of whom combined for 51 points last season.
He might not flaunt the same pedigree as former Lowell netminder Connor Hellebuyck, but UMass-Amherst transfer Kevin Boyle performed well between the pipes last season, recording a .915 save percentage over 34 games.
Since taking the helm of the River Hawks in April 2011, head coach Norm Bazin has helped Lowell ascend into the elite tiers of Hockey East — clinching two Hockey East titles, three NCAA tournament bids, and one Frozen Four appearance over a short span of time.
Expect more of the same from the River Hawks this winter.
By Jeff Cox
Norm Bazin has taken UMass Lowell to unprecedented heights since taking over the helm at his alma mater. The River Hawks had made three consecutive NCAA Tournaments in a row before last season when they fell just short.
There is no reason to doubt UML won't finish in the upper half of Hockey East once again. Bazin's squad returns most of its key players from a year, including forwards C.J. Smith and Joe Gambardella, defensemen Dylan Zinc and Michael Kapla and goaltender Kevin Boyle.
The River Hawks are a program that relies on bringing a blue collar work ethic each night out, executing the system and a next man up approach. The only reason Lowell isn't ranked higher by this observer is because of a question of just how good the team can be between the pipes.