LOWELL, Mass. -- Hello and welcome inside Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell where the 14th-ranked River Hawks host Rensselaer in their 2015-16 season opener on this Friday night. Faceoff is set for 7:15 p.m.
Both teams lifted the lid on the new year by hosting exhibition games against Canadian colleges last weekend. Merrimack is the only Hockey East team not opening its season tonight or tomorrow.
River Hawk sophomores Jake Kamrass and Michael Louria scored goals in the first period on Sunday en route to handing New Brunswick a 3-2 defeat. The Varsity Reds had previously defeated the AHL's Portland Pirates and No. 1 Boston College on a three-game New England trip.
The River Hawks return more goals (117) and points (297) from a season ago than any Division 1 team, including all five players who scored ten or more goals. C.J. Smith led the team by scoring 16 times during his freshman year.
This season marks head coach Norm Bazin's fifth at UML and a win tonight would mark the 100th of his career. Bazin has the highest winning percentage among current Hockey East coaches.
RPI surrendered an overtime goal and dropped its exhibition game to St. Thomas by a 3-2 count. Seniors Milos Bubela and Travis Fulton scored for the Engineers while Jason Kasdorf stopped all 12 shots he faced during the first two periods. Bubela's eight goals and 15 points are second-most among returning RPI players, behind only sophomore Drew Melanson.
Here are tonight's lines:
ENGINEERS (12-26-3, 8-12-2 ECAC in 2014-15)
Drew Melanson - Viktor Liljegren - Jesper Ohrvall
Lou Nanne - Milos Bubela - Zach Schroeder
Jake Wood - Riley Bourbonnais - Kenny Gillespie
Meirs Moore - Travis Fulton - Lonnie Clary
Chris Bradley - Mike Prapavessis
Bradley Bell - Parker Reno
Jared Wilson - Phil Hampton
RIVER HAWKS (21-12-6, 11-7-4 Hockey East in 2014-15)
A.J. White - Evan Campbell - Michael Louria
Robert Francis - Michael Fallon - Gage Hough
C.J. Smith - Joe Gambardella - Connor Wilson
Ryan Dmowski - Nick Master - Adam Chapie
Tyler Mueller - Niklas Folin
Dylan Zink - Michael Kapla
Chris Forney - Tommy Panico