River Hawks hockey alumni: Where are they now?

Adam Chapie served as an assistant captain during his senior season at UMass Lowell. (Courtesy Fred Kfoury/Icon Sportswire)

Kathryn Leeber
Connector Staff

Many former UMass Lowell hockey players have found success with professional teams following their college careers. This year, 12 alumni have landed spots on National Hockey League (NHL) training camp rosters.

In the past, a number of former River Hawks have signed with professional teams after they finished college, whether it be in the NHL, a developmental team in the American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL or a European team. 2016 is unique in that it has numerous River Hawk alumni in the big leagues.

Connor Hellebuyck played for the River Hawks from 2012 until 2014, backstopping the team to two consecutive Hockey East championship wins. After his sophomore year, Hellebuyck signed with the Winnipeg Jets who drafted him in 2014. He played with the Jets’ developmental affiliate team, St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL, for the 2014-15 season. Hellebuyck was called up to play with the Jets for the 2015-16 season. In 2015, he was selected to the US National Hockey Team to play in the World Ice Hockey Championship. He was also named to the 2016 roster.

According to his profile on the Jets website, Hellebuyck has played in 26 games this past season with the Jets with a save percentage of .918.  He also played in 30 games with the Manitoba Moose; the St. John’s IceCaps changed their name to the Manitoba Moose in 2015.

Adam Chapie is another recent alumnus that played with UMass Lowell from 2012 until 2016. Playing as a forward, Chapie scored 25 points his senior year, which put him in second place for the most points on his team. He signed with the New York Rangers after completing his college career. He was sent to their developmental affiliate team, the Hartford Wolfpack in the AHL.

Also, recently announced, Chapie is on the training camp roster for the New York Rangers. Be sure to look for Chapie spending this upcoming season with the Wolfpack, making a case to be called up to the big show.

Another goaltender for the River Hawks, Kevin Boyle, recently signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Boyle earned the Hockey East awards for Goaltender of the Year and Co-Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season in his senior year. His senior efforts were a major factor in getting the River Hawks within one game of the Frozen Four. His save percentage was .934.

Chad Ruhwedel is a defenseman who played for the River Hawks from 2010-13. In 2013, he was named to the NCAA First All-American team, leading to his signing with the Buffalo Sabres in 2013.

Ruhwedel played for the Sabres through this past season, in which he only played one game. When his contract expired this summer, he signed a one-year deal as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the most recent Stanley Cup champions.

Ruhwedel’s teammate, forward Derek Arnold, played with the River Hawks for all four years of his college career from 2010 until 2014. He then signed with the Norwegian team Lillehammer, playing 45 games in the 2014-15 season. He had 21 goals and 24 assists. From there, Arnold signed with the Manchester Monarchs in the ECHL, the affiliate team of the NHL team, the Los Angeles Kings.

This past season, Arnold was sent to a few different AHL teams on loan, such as the Ontario Reign, Portland Pirates and Charlotte Checkers. He will be back with the Monarchs for this upcoming season.

Stephen Buco is another forward who played for the River Hawks for three seasons before transferring to UMass Boston. He appeared in over 60 games scoring 10 goals and had 18 assists.

Buco played with the Louisiana IceGators in the Southern Professional Hockey League for the past 2015-16 season. This upcoming season, he will be playing for the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL.

With many great alumni of the River Hawk’s hockey program, it can be difficult to keep up with their success after college. Some of the more recent graduates are playing on teams in the US, so try to catch their games to see how well they are doing.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article referred to the ECHL as the East Coast Hockey League. The league changed its name after the 2002-03 season simply to ECHL.

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