LOWELL, Mass. — Good evening and welcome inside Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, where tonight the No. 3 River Hawks return to action for the first time in two weeks with the opener of a Hockey East home-and-home series with Connecticut.
Puck drop is set for 7:15 p.m. in the 31st all-time meeting between the two programs that have met since 1969 and both started their hockey-playing histories at the Division II level.
Over this weekend and next (against Merrimack), the River Hawks will play their only four games in a 41-day span. Lowell has not played since Nov. 18 when it finished a weekend series at Notre Dame with a 4-1 loss, one night after winning by the same score.
Senior Joe Gambardella has ten points in his last seven games and 19 for the season after assisting twice in UML’s win over the Irish. Junior C.J. Smith, who also ranks among the league’s top ten scorers, scored twice in that game to up his season totals to nine goals and 17 points.
In net, the lion’s share of the work has gone to freshman Tyler Wall. The Rangers’ sixth-round draftee this June ranks third in the league and among the nation’s top dozen with a 2.09 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
On the UConn side, freshman goaltender Adam Huska is also a New York prospect, drafted in the seventh round in 2015. He ranks sixth in Hockey East in both aforementioned categories through his first seven starts.
Junior Corey Ronan scored his second goal and UConn’s first shorthanded strike of the season in the Huskies’ 4-2 loss to Sacred Heart last Saturday. The Franklin, Mass., native has two goals and an assist in his last three games, while sophomore Tage Thompson added to his team-leading totals in goals (8) and points (16) against the Pioneers.
Here are tonight’s lines:
HUSKIES (4-6-5, 2-3-1)
Karl El-Mir - Max Kalter - Evan Richardson
Maxim Letunov - Benjamin Freeman - Tage Thompson
Spencer Naas - Justin Howell - Kasperi Ojantakanen
Brian Morgan - Jesse Schwartz - Corey Ronan
Derek Pratt - Wyatt Newpower
Johnny Austin - Miles Gendron
Joseph Masonius - David Drake
RIVER HAWKS (8-4-2, 4-2-0)
Connor Wilson - Evan Campbell - Ryan Collins
C.J. Smith - Joe Gambardella - John Edwardh
Jake Kamrass - Nick Master - Ryan Dmowski
Colin O’Neill - Ryan Lohin - Kenny Hausinger
Dylan Zink - Michael Kapla
Niklas Folin - Tyler Mueller
Mattias Goransson - Chris Forney