Meeting the Mens Ice Hockey River Hawks

(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics) 

Aaron Robinson

Connector Editor

After a strong season last year, the UMass Lowell River Hawks faltered in the postseason, losing in three games to the Boston University Terriers. This year, The River Hawks are off to a strong 3-1 start, with a huge victory over the top ranked college program in the country, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin was particularly excited for the new season and what he could expect from his team.

“I’m really excited about these upperclassmen and the impact they can bring early on,” said Bazin during Hockey East Media Day before the season, “along with our four-person returning Junior Class.”

Bazin does not concern himself with the team’s win-loss record though, even if his team is outperforming the expectations of the AP’s preseason coach’s poll.

“I don’t get too preoccupied with the record,” Bazin said. “I think we’re getting better every week and that’s what I’m concerned with. Some of these guys are getting valuable experience playing against good teams and that’s important.”

With six assistant captains on the roster, Bazin is looking for his upperclassmen to bring their experience to a youthful team if they want to succeed. So far, the team looks great.

Head Coach:

Norm Bazin: Bazin has ran the River Hawks since 2011, compiling a 190-101-26 record. A left wing for the River Hawks from 1990–1994, Bazin has always kept close to the University. After a brief spell as a player for the ECHL Birmingham Bulls, he retuned to coach as an assistant at UMass Lowell for 3 years until he left for Colorado College. From there, he went on to coach at Hamilton College from 2008–2011 before he was hired to take over UMass Lowell hockey. Since his arrival, the River Hawks have three national championship appearances, winning in 2013 and 2017.

Left Wing:

#28 Connor Sodergren, Junior (A): The junior forward is primed for a big year. The Tewksbury, MA native played in all 37 games last season accounting for 21 points (five goals, 16 assists), the fourth most on the team and second most among returning players. He hopes to continue a strong sophomore campaign. Coach Bazin admires the way Sodergren plays and named him as one of the assistant captains.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts

#26 Andre Lee, Freshman: The first year forward, who was drafted by the LA Kings in the seventh round of last years draft, is already making a name for himself in River Hawk blue. Lee, from Karlstad, Sweden, leads the team in goal scoring and River Hawk fans should be excited whenever they see him with the puck. Lee looks to be a focal point of the offense going forward and it will be hard to miss him, as he is a monstrous six foot four inches.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 3 g, 0 a, 3 pts.

#10 Matt Brown, Freshman: The smallest player on the team at a generous five foot nine inches, Brown has shown to be a great facilitator of the puck, as he is second on the team in assists and total points. Coach Bazin is expecting solid complimentary play from the Wood Ridge, NJ, native.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 1 g, 3 a, 4 pts.

#13 Austin O’Rourke, Sophomore: O’Rourke’s role on this team is to play great defensive hockey from the forward position. Only playing in six games as a freshman, O’Rourke was unable to register a single point in his first season, although coach Bazin loves the discipline from the Canton, GA kid. While he will not light up the stats sheet, he will block shots, and he leads the forwards in that category with four.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

Center:

#12 Charlie Levesque, Junior, (A): Another assistant captain, Levesque registered 17 points as a sophomore (four goals, 13 assists) and hopes to bring more offensive savvy to his game. He is off to a slower start this year, only registering a single shot on goal in the stat sheet. The Russell, Ontario native is hoping to pick his game up soon.

19–20 Season Totals: 3 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#16 Colin O’Neill, Senior (A): The third offensive assistant captain, the senior from Odenton, MD is not the most prolific offensive threat, but he is great on the faceoff dot. Registering eight points last year (three goals, five assists), O’Neill’s game is to keep the puck away from the opponent and skate with them in transition.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 1 g, 1 a, 2 pts.

#18 Carl Berglund, Freshman: Another freshman that is contributing heavily and the other freshman Swede on the team, Berglund brings tenacity to the third line with a willingness to shoot as often as he passes. Sometimes his will lead to bad shot angles, but he should improve in his shot selection as the season progresses.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 1 g, 2 a, 3 pts.

#21 Brian Chambers, Freshman: The second Massachusetts player on the team, Chambers comes by way of Weymouth. Chambers figures to be a complimentary piece that plays a few minutes per game.

19–20 Season Totals: 3 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#24 Lucas Condotta, Sophomore: From Georgetown, Ontario, this fourth line center can score, and he can hit. Playing in 34 games last year, Condotta scored nine points (four goals, five assists) and racked up a serious number of hits, too. His presence brings physicality to the team.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp. 2 g. 0 a, 2 pts.

Right Wing:

#4 Sam Knoblauch, Sophomore: Knoblauch’s role is undefined. Scoring nine points (four goals, five assists) last year, the kid from Rochester, MI, has played in only two games this year and has not scored a point. Hopefully, he is able to contribute going forward.

19–20 Season Totals: 2 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#7 Kenny Hausinger, Senior (A): The fourth offensive assistant captain and the leading returning scorer from last year (22 points, 13 goals, nine assists), Hausinger is the most potent weapon the River Hawks boast. Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, Hausinger looks to explode this year and his fast start leaves little doubt.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 2 g, 4 a, 6 pts.

#23 Zach Kaiser, Freshman: Kaiser is a third line wing with good upside. His role is limited for now, but do not be surprised to see the role for Kaiser, from Orangeville, Ontario, expand.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 1 g, 1 a, 2 pts.

#9 Reid Stefanson, Sophomore: Last years breakthrough rookie is sidelined by injury which will cost him extended time. He led all River Hawk rookies with eight goals and 12 assists last season. When he returns, look for some of the freshman’s roles on the team to diminish.

#22 Blake Wells, Freshman: Wells played in the home opener and notched a shot on goal and a hooking penalty. His role is expected to be minimal this season.

19–20 Season Totals: 0 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#29 Chris Schutz, R-Junior: The junior from Keller, Texas, is redshirted again this season, meaning his contributions will be limited unless the redshirt is lifted. Since he will be playing in few games, look for him to score when he does play.

19–20 Season Totals: 3 gp, 1 g, 1 a, 2 pts.

Defenseman:

#19 Anthony Baxter, Junior (A): The fifth assistant captain, Baxter will defend the blue lines and look for teammates to set up potential shots. Although a much better passer, he does shoot the puck well, scoring his first two career goals last season as a sophomore. From Oakville, Ontario, the junior is the most experienced defender, so Bazin is looking for Baxter to lead the defense.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 1 a, 1 pt.

#5 Chase Blackmun, Sophomore: Likely the other pair to Baxter, the sophomore showed great scoring ability last year, tallying five goals. A true offensive defenseman means that he will be late getting back on defense, which could lead to odd man rushes for the opposition. The Hudson, WI native is looking to improve on his defense this year, even if his offense takes a step back.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 1 a, 1 pt.

#8 Seth Barton, Sophomore: Coming from Kelowna, British Columbia, this third-round draft pick by the Detroit Red Wings has huge upside. A master passer, Barton always seems to be in the right place at the right time to set up a score. Coach Bazin will rely on him heavily to take a big step forward in production this year. He does have a problem with taking too many penalties.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#11 Jon McDonald, Sophomore: Hailing from Livonia, MI, McDonald is as aggressive as they come. His willingness to block shots is an asset on many levels, as well as his ability to control the puck on penalty kills.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 2 a, 2 pts.

#17 Marek Korencik, Freshman: From Zilina, Slovakia, Korencik will get third line defensive pairing minutes, while coach Bazin tries to figure out his strengths and weaknesses. Korencik is a question mark right now.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#25 Nolan Sawchuk, Sophomore: Sawchuk is much like Korencik, except he was born in Burnsville, MN, not Slovakia. He will play, but the amount he does will fluctuate while Bazin gets a feel for his game. Sawchuk played in 23 games last year, accounting for two points on assists.

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#2 Dominick Procopio, Sophomore: The Grosse Point, MI native will take the role of extra defenseman this season. He will not play every game, but he will be used to spell any of the top six defensemen in case of injury or fatigue.

19–20 Season Totals: 3 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

#6 Jordan Schulting, Freshman: The native of Penticton, British Columbia will not play much either this season. He will not dress unless there is a suspension or injury, but he does possess good stick handling maneuvers.

#20 Cale List, Sophomore: From Petawawa, Ontario, List has not played this season and has not dressed. He appeared in four games last season and notched one assist.

19–20 Season Totals: 1 gp, 0 g, 0 a, 0 pts.

Goaltenders:

#33 Tyler Wall, Senior (A): Number 33 in the program, but number one in fans hearts. Tyler Wall, the sixth assistant captain, is just as his name implies, a brick wall in net. He will be relied on heavily this year and is a huge reason why the River Hawks are 3-1 right now. A four-year starter from Leamington, Ontario, and a sixth-round pick by the New York Rangers in 2016, Wall has great goaltending instincts and the River Hawks season will rest on his shoulders

19–20 Season Totals: 4 gp, 3-1, 92 sv, .958 sv%, 1.50 gaa.

#1 Logan Neaton, Freshman: Picked by the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round, Neaton, who hails from Brighton, MI, looks to be the number two goaltender behind Wall, but that battle is still up in the air. Scouts from all over the country note Neaton’s controlled hands and patience. Perhaps he takes over for Wall next year?

19–20 Season Totals: 0 gp, 0-0, 0 sv, .000 sv%, 0.00 gaa.

#32 Eric Green, Sophomore: Green enters his sophomore year as the presumed number two behind Tyler Wall but will have to beat out Neaton. A native of Easton, CT, Green dressed in every game last season as the number three goalie. Could he possibly be Wall’s replacement?

19–20 Season Totals: 0 gp, 0-0, 0 sv, .000 sv%, 0.00 gaa.

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