River Hawks enter 2017-18 season with new alternative practice facility in Tewksbury

Recently the River Hawks have changed their regular practice site from the Tully Forum in Chelmsford to the Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury.(Courtesy of Breakaway Ice Center)

Vrinda Punj
Connector Contributor

The university has been utilizing the Tsongas Center for a lot events, for things other than the hockey practice sessions and games. As a result of this, the hockey team has been using alternative practice sites in lieu of the Tsongas Center.

“Tully [Forum] used to be a home for us… The Breakaway Center became available so we jumped on that,” says Norm Bazin, head coach of the River Hawk men’s ice hockey team.

Typically, the River Hawks practice away from the Tsongas Center throughout the season. They have actually been using alternative practice sites for over a six years now due to the school’s multi-faceted use of the Tsongas Center for concerts and basketball games.

Since the hockey team has been practicing at alternate practice sites for a long time now, it is not a really a very big adjustment and does not effect the team adversely.

“You know what, it’s… necessary when you think about the school trying to use [the Tsongas Center for multiple things] for shows and career fairs is just something you do. Pro sports are the same exact thing. The Boston Bruins skate at their practice arena almost all the time. So it’s a necessary thing,” says Bazin.

According to Bazin, the hockey team does not mind practicing at alternative sites because they understand the university’s need to use the Tsongas Center.

“We are a team player in the whole scope of the university, so we realize it’s going to be different times that we’re displaced, that’s all,” said Bazin.

The truth is that the resources within these practice arenas cannot compare with the Tsongas Center. After practicing at the alternative practice centers the team is very appreciative of all of the resources available at the Tsongas Center.

“Having a hockey performance center where [the team can] stretch before practice, and [watch] videos is very beneficial,” said Bazin
Occasionally the hockey team does change its practice location in favor of better sites.

Originally, the team practiced at Tully Forum, but when the Breakaway Center became available to them they decided to change the alternative practice site.

Tewksbury’s Breakaway Center “has a bigger neutral zone in that facility which is easier to practice from the standpoint of systems,” said Bazin.

Now the hockey team only practices at Tully about once a year. The school does not inconvenience the players by making it difficult to get to the Breakaway Ice Center. The team has access to buses, for what Bazin says are “safety purposes,” and makes sure that the alternative practice sites do not cause scheduling conflicts.

Even though it would be ideal for the hockey team to have access to the Tsongas Center all of the time, but it is clear they are making good use of the alternative practice sites and are not letting the setback affect their performance in the slightest.

Connector Editors Hannah Manning and Andrew Sciascia contributed to this article.

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