Hockey East fans last saw their favorite teams engaged in conference play four weeks ago. Since then, every team has participated in non-league games, tournaments, and showcases.
During the winter/holiday break, the River Hawks traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and skated in the Three Rivers Classic in the house that Sidney Crosby built, the Console Energy Center. UMass Lowell defeated Clarkson (3-0) in the preliminary round but lost to Robert Morris University (5-3) in the tournament’s championship game.
Tonight, UML returns to Hockey East action in Durham, New Hampshire to face off against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
The Wildcats played three non-conference games while students were home for the holidays, picking up two wins by defeating Maine twice (5-4, 7-0) and one loss to Vermont (3-2).
The River Hawks (11-4-4 overall) enter tonight’s tilt ranked 10th in the nation by USCHO.com and USA Hockey Magazine. They are in first place in Hockey East with a 6-2-3 record and 15 points.
The Wildcats are unranked (8-7-4 overall) and are in 7th place in the league with a 2-1-4 record and 8 points. They trail UML by seven points but have four games in hand.
Each team has players who are off to strong starts this season and are some of the most exciting athletes to watch in all of college hockey.
UML has received consistent offensive leadership from forwards Adam Chapie and CJ Smith, who are 11th and 12th, respectively, in Hockey East scoring. Goaltender Kevin Boyle has been as good as they come and has appeared in every game.
Chapie leads the River Hawks in scoring with 19 points on 9 goals and 10 assists. The senior forward has come up big when needed, three of his goals have come on the power play and one has been a game winner. He was named to the All-Tournament team in Pittsburgh.
Smith has also registered 19 points on 8 goals and 11 assists. Sixteen of his points have come on the road. Not to mention, UML is 8-2-3 in games, in which, he scores a point.
Boyle enters tonight’s match third in the league with a 1.83 goals against average and is tied for second in save percentage (.936) with Boston College’s Thatcher Demko.
The Wildcats will try to counter with some lethal firepower of their own in the likes of Andrew Poturalski, Tyler Kelleher, and Dan Correale.
Poturalski, a sophomore forward, leads Hockey East and the nation with 36 points on 18 goals and 18 assists. He has garnered the conference’s Player of the Month award in November and December.
Kelleher is second in league scoring with 6 goals, 28 assists, totaling 34 points. The native of Longmeadow, Massachusetts enters tonight’s tilt on a 12 game point scoring streak.
Correale, the Hockey East Player of the Week for the week ending January 4th, is 15th in conference scoring. This season, he has scored 13 goals and 5 assists resulting in 18 points. Eight of his goals have come on the power play.
This is the 112th meeting between UMass Lowell and New Hampshire. The Wildcats lead the series 58-38-15, but the River Hawks have won the last six contests including three by shutout.
ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL/NCAA Hockey Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, can be followed on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.
Reprinted with permission of The Lowell Sun.